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Geosciences and Environmental Change Science Center

Exploring Future Flora, Environments, and Climates Through Simulations (EFFECTS)

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Project Overview

Future climate change will affect the Earth's physical and biological systems. A better understanding of the potential magnitude, rate, and spatial expression of both future climate changes and their effects is needed to inform policy and management responses to climate change. This research uses a variety of numerical modeling approaches to explore the potential impacts of climate changes on species and ecosystems and the implications of these impacts for conservation and natural resource management efforts.

The EFFECTS Project is a research activity of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Geosciences and Environmental Change Science Center and is funded by the USGS Climate and Land Use Change Research and Development Program.

For more information about this project, visit the links below, or contact Sarah Shafer (


Paleoenvironmental Responses to Climate Change in North America

This research uses a variety of process-based models to simulate the effects of historical and paleoclimate (21 ka to present) changes on species and ecosystems, with a focus on vegetation. Model simulations are compared with paleoenvironmental proxy data to evaluate model performance. Results of this research are compared with simulations of potential future climate change effects to understand how past responses of species and ecosystems to climate change may help inform projections of future responses.

A Visualization Approach for Projecting Future Distributions of North American Bioclimates

How will the climates of conservation and natural resource management areas change in the future? This research is designed to allow conservation and natural resource managers to explore the spatial dynamics of future climate change using the concept of climate analogues. USGS and Univ. of Oregon researchers are developing downscaled (10-km and ~1-km) future climate data sets to calculate bioclimatic variables that represent ecologically important thresholds and physiological processes (e.g., growing degree-days) for major taxa and ecosystems in the US. An on-line web-based visualization application will allow managers to map where: 1) a managed area’s potential future climate is located on today’s landscape and 2) the areas to which the current climate of a managed area is projected to move in the future.

Assessing the Vulnerability of Species and Ecosystems to Projected Future Climate Change in the Pacific Northwest

This research uses model simulations of projected climate, vegetation, and species changes to evaluate the potential vulnerabilities of species and ecosystems to future climate change. An important goal of this work is to provide information for conservation and natural resource managers that they can use in developing adaptive management responses to climate change. This research is a collaboration of researchers and managers from the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, The Nature Conservancy, University of Idaho, University of Washington, U.S. Geological Survey, and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Projected Future Climate and Vegetation Changes for the Wyoming Landscape Conservation Initiative (WLCI) Study Area

The Wyoming Landscape Conservation Initiative is a science-based program assisting in the management and conservation of species' populations and habitats in southwest Wyoming. Potential future climate, bioclimate, and vegetation data produced by the USGS EFFECTS Project are being used by WLCI to assess the potential effects of climate change across the WLCI study area.

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