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ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Burns, Oregon » Range and Meadow Forage Management Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #318773

Research Project: Restoring and Managing Great Basin Ecosystems

Location: Range and Meadow Forage Management Research

Title: Spatial and temporal variability in minimum temperature trends in the western U.S. sagebrush steppe

Author
item Svejcar, Anthony
item Angell, Raymond
item JAMES, JEREMY - University Of California

Submitted to: Journal of Arid Environments
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/6/2016
Publication Date: 7/5/2016
Publication URL: http://handle.nal.usda.gov/10113/62964
Citation: Svejcar, A.J., Angell, R.F., James, J. 2016. Spatial and temporal variability in minimum temperature trends in the western U.S. sagebrush steppe. Journal of Arid Environments. 133:125-133. doi: 10.1016/j.jaridenv.2016.06.003.

Interpretive Summary: Climate is a major driver of vegetation structure and productivity. In recent years there has been considerable interest in future climate change and potential impacts on ecosystems and management options. In this paper, we analyzed minimum monthly temperature for ten rural locations in the western sagebrush steppe. Oregon and Nevada each had five locations, and the period of record ranged from 69 to 125 years. We concluded: 1) minimum monthly temperature variation over years is much higher during the winter than during other seasons, 2) there is evidence of decadal trends in both directions (hotter and cooler) for most, but not all sites, and 3) sites exhibited individualistic patterns rather than following a general regional pattern. The analysis shows that sites in relatively close proximity can exhibit different temperature patterns over time. We suggest that ecologists and land managers make use of weather data from the network of local weather stations when planning for the future or interpreting past changes in plant and animal populations.

Technical Abstract: Climate is a major driver of ecosystem dynamics. In recent years there has been considerable interest in future climate change and potential impacts on ecosystems and management options. In this paper, we analyzed minimum monthly temperature (T min) for ten rural locations in the western sagebrush steppe. Oregon and Nevada each had five locations, and the period of record ranged from 69 to 125 years. We used structural time series analysis to evaluate trends over time at each location. We also used box plots to compare variation within months at each location. We concluded: 1) T min variation over years is much higher during the winter than during other seasons, 2) there is evidence of decadal trends in both directions (hotter and cooler) for most, but not all sites, and 3) sites exhibited individualistic patterns rather than following a general regional pattern. The analysis shows that sites in relatively close proximity can exhibit different temperature patterns over time. We suggest that ecologists and land managers make use of weather data from the network of local weather stations when planning for the future or interpreting past changes in plant and animal populations.