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California Rangeland in a drier and warmer future: A synthesis and empirical assessment of potential impacts

Principal Investigator: Jeremy James

Between 2012 and 2014 California experienced conditions that were warmer and drier than any period over the last 1200 years. Evidence is rapidly mounting indicating that these co-occurring periods of precipitation deficit and warm temperatures are human caused, likely to increase over the next century, and result in levels of drought intensity and duration rivaling those documented in the paleoclimate records.

Understanding how these anthropogenic stressors will impact flows of ecosystem services in California is one of the most serious research challenges of our time.

The broad objectives of this work are to:

  1. Synthesize previous and ongoing work by ANR academics and other REC researchers on how precipitation and temperature variation, along with herbaceous species composition influence forage production on annual rangeland and integrate appropriate data sets in to available modeling frameworks to forecast future effects of climate change on rangeland forage production.
  2. Identify direct and indirect pathways in which warming, precipitation, and species interactions influence oak woodland regeneration.

Collectively, this project will improve our ability to scale global change to local and regional impacts and, for the first time, provide stakeholders an evidence- based framework to prepare for a warmer and drier future.