CIG’s research on forest ecosystems of the Pacific Northwest (PNW) primarily focuses on how climate fluctuations at annual to millennial time scales affect forest growth, regeneration, fire disturbance, and carbon dynamics.
PNW forests are diverse, ranging from temperate rainforest to subalpine forest to dry savanna. The responses of different tree species and forest ecosystems to climate variability and change are equally diverse. Empirical studies and modeling across environmental gradients in the Olympic and Cascade Mountains are providing insight into the spatial and temporal variability of these responses. Our data is improving the scientific basis for predictions about forest productivity and ecological disturbance in the face of changing temperature and precipitation patterns. This information can, in turn, be used to inform PNW forestry management decisions.
The primary objectives of research in the forest resources sector of CIG are to:
- Determine the effects of climate variability and change on forest ecosystems ranging from low to high elevation and marine to continental climatic environments.
- Reconstruct past variability in climate, hydrology, and fire, using bioproxies from time series of tree growth and other paleoecological data.
- Understand the relationship between climatic variability and natural disturbance (e.g., fire) at large spatial scales.
- Quantify the role of forest ecosystems in carbon storage.