Shooting at a moving target: Evaluating ecosystem response to extreme events in a changing world

Analysis of the effects of extreme events such as heavy rainfall, drought, windstorms and forests on ecosystem processes has always been a great challenge.  This challenge has increased in recent decades because environmental change (climate, land use, biotic) has altered both the frequency as well as the ecosystem response, to these events of these events.  Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) sites provide unique opportunities for analysis of these challenging questions.  At the Hubbard Brook LTER site in the northern hardwood forests of New Hampshire, we have been characterizing variable response to the extreme winter climate events of soil freezing and ice storms over the past 20 years.  We hypothesize that the variable response to linked to a general nitrogen oligotrophication of this ecosystem which in turn is driven by changes in the carbon cycle associated with elevated atmospheric carbon dioxide and deacidification.  We further hypothesize that these changes have reduced the resilience of the ecosystem to extreme treefall events such as windstorms or clear cutting.  Long term research is key to addressing these challenging research questions.

CC Meeting: 
Groffman.Peter M.:

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