Climate change in the Northwest is the focus of two federal grants totaling $3.2 million awarded to two University of Oregon researchers. They will work together on a pair of multi-site projects designed to help enhance biodiversity while protecting people and property from wildfires in the face of a changing climate.
Scott D. Bridgham, an ecologist in the UO's Center for Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, will lead an effort to understand potential threats to prairie ecosystems in Oregon and Washington with a $1.8 million, four-year grant from the U.S. Department of Energy. The project will involve a series of 23-foot climate-controlled circles of prairie vegetation on properties owned by The Nature Conservancy in the Puget Trough near Olympia, Wash., the Rogue River Valley outside Medford, Ore., and the Willamette Valley west of Eugene. The three sites form a natural climate gradient of temperature and precipitation, upon which climate-change treatments will be imposed.
Bart Johnson, professor of landscape architecture, will lead a four-year, $1.4 million project funded by the National Science Foundation targeting Oregon's Willamette Valley, where population is projected to double in 40 years. Urban growth into rural areas is expected to raise the vulnerability to wildfires for more people and properties under climate-driven changes. Researchers will model the effects of a variety of changes in ecosystems, wildfire, land use and land management in different areas of the Willamette Valley. One goal is to explore whether restoring historic oak savanna and prairie can be used as a successful defense against catastrophic wildfires.
Researchers will "couple" their biophysical model of climate-driven changes in vegetation and fire with a model of how decision makers on individual land parcels respond to climate, land-use regulation and incentives, land markets, perceived fire hazard, land management costs and aesthetics. The focus will
|Contact: Jim Barlow|
University of Oregon