Ecosystems and Climate Change Research
Researchers at EPA are providing innovative ways to help communities and resource managers adapt to the impacts of climate change on ecosystems that are occurring across the nation. They are developing the scientific information and tools that can be used by states and communities to develop strategies to protect our vulnerable ecosystems from the impacts of climate change.
Many factors affect the ecosystems in which we live, work, and play, including land use, application of fertilizers and population growth. Ecosystems are further impacted by the changing climate that is resulting in extreme air and water temperatures and changes in the amount and type of precipitation.
We rely on the natural environment to provide us with food, clean water, and a multitude of natural resources. Understanding how climate change is affecting these resources now and how they may affect them in the future is an important part of EPA’s research.
Researchers are working to:
- Assess the likelihood and effects of extreme events on ecosystems
- Develop ways to assess risk to near-coastal species and habitats
- Understand the vulnerability of wetlands and water quality to changes in the amount and timing of water flow
- Develop models and maps to evaluate the effects of climate change on water availability and water quality at basin and regional scales
- Improve models that help us understand the direct and indirect impacts of sea level rise on coastal wetlands
Research is focused on developing new approaches to prepare for, reduce, or adapt to climate change impacts on ecosystems. Preparation includes developing scenarios of plausible future conditions that can then be used to evaluate alternative responses. The results can be used to support decision making by states and communities in the face of a changing environment.
- National Climate Assessment -- EPA participates in the U.S. Global Change Research Program’s Sustained Assessment Working Group and contributes to the program’s development of the National Climate Assessment. The fourth National Climate Assessment was published in November 2018. The Assessment includes chapters on ecosystems.
- Integrated Climate and Land Use Scenarios (ICLUS) Tool -- The Global Climate Explorer (GCX) Integrated Climate and Land-Use Scenarios (ICLUS) Tool was developed to produce spatially explicit projections of population and land-use that are based on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Special Report on Emissions Scenarios (SRES).
- Modeling the Interactive Effects from Nitrogen Deposition and Climate Change on Terrestrial Ecosystems and Biodiversity --
EPA developed several research efforts to better understand how N deposition and climate change can interactively affect ecosystems.
- Adaptation Publications for Climate Change Research
- Ecosystem Publications for Climate Change Research
- Nitrogen Publications for Climate Change Research
- Scenario Publications for Climate Change Research
- Water Quality Publications for Climate Change Research