Climate and water balance change among public, private, and tribal lands within Greater Wild land Ecosystems across North Central USA
Arjun Adhikari, Andrew J. Hansen
The remaining wildlands in the North Central US include varying proportions of public, private, and tribal lands across water balance ecotones. These wildlands may be highly vulnerable changing climate impacting their ability to sustain biodiversity and ecosystem functioning. We quantified projected changes in growing season climate (temperature) and water balance (MI: moisture index) in Greater Wildland Ecosystems (GWEs) and land allocation types (public, private, and tribal lands) across Central Plains, Western Plains, and Western Mountains ecoregions of North Central US by using high-resolution climate data from GCM output of 1980–2005 to 2071–2099. We also tested for the evidence of systematic climatic bias on tribal lands, which are often claimed to be distributed non-randomly. We found that the historic temperature was lower for Western Mountains compared to Western and Central Plains’ GWEs. The climate model projected drier and warmer GWEs with a narrow difference in increased temperature (4.6 to 5.5 °C). The MI was projected to have the greatest decrease in Central Plains (? 28%) and the least in Western Plains (? -17%) GWEs. Our findings revealed that the GWEs and land allocation types are increasingly vulnerable to changing climate. We conclude that the distribution of tribal and public lands is not climatically biased in the historic period and the projected rates of change in climate are similar among land allocation types within each GWE. All GWEs, however, are projected to warm and undergo increasing aridity, which may challenge management to sustain ecological health and human wellbeing across all land allocation types.
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