Domestic U.S.
Global Fiducials sites, distributed within the Domestic U.S., were selected to support the Global Climate Change project. These sites were selected in consideration of their scientific and ecological importance, and are all subjects of study from a myriad of multi-disciplinary points of view. As the foundation of the Global Fiducials concept of the Earth Systems shows, all the earths systems interact with one another. The sampling of sites in this section represents a cross section of opportunity to support Climate Change analysis from a broad spectrum of scientific and ecological perspectives, and touch upon the breadth of the Earth Systems.
Andrews Experimental Forest
Oregon
Andrews Experimental Forest is located in the western Cascade Range of Oregon in the drainage basin of Lookout Creek, a tributary of Blue River and the McKenzie River. This 6,400-hectare forest is part of the National Science Foundation's Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) Program. The site is administered cooperatively by the USDA Forest Service Pacific Northwest Research Station, Oregon State University, and Willamette National Forest.

Research at Andrews has been diverse since it was established in 1948. Original studies focused on natural resource management, while newer studies concentrate on carbon dynamics, biodiversity, and hydrology. These three ecosystem properties are of high scientific and social interest and represent three unique categories of ecological response to landscape patterns.
Assateague National Seashore
Maryland
Assateague stretches for 37 miles along the coasts of Maryland and Virginia, bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the east and the Sinepuxent and Chincoteague Bays to the west. long-term monitoring efforts encompass the northern two-thirds of the island. As a coastal barrier island adjacent to densely populated resort communities, Assateague is affected by a wide range of natural and human forces.

Ocean currents, storm events, and seasonal weather patterns are constantly reshaping the island landscape. Powerful storms can dramatically alter the shoreline in a matter of hours. Other forces sculpt the landscape in less obvious ways. Exposure to salt spray, lack of fresh water, and isolation from the mainland are subtle but powerful influences on the island's species composition.

Human activities also exert a strong influence on Assateague's natural environment. Beginning in the 1600s, colonists used the island for grazing horses and other livestock. The bands of wild horses living on Assateague today are descendents of those domesticated animals and remain a powerful force acting on the island's natural systems. These non-native horses heavily graze the lush marsh grasses that many animals depend on for food and shelter.

Because of the growing population density in neighboring areas, human land use and development influence water quality and aquatic resources in the surrounding bay and ocean. At various times in its history, fishing villages, industrial sites, adjacent navigation projects, and even a network of lifesaving stations for stranded mariners have all left their mark.
Atchafalaya River Delta
Louisiana
The Atchafalaya River delta is located approximately 19 miles southwest of Morgan City, Louisiana, in Saint Mary Parish. The Atchafalaya is a navigable river and the major distributary of the Mississippi River. The Atchafalaya is one place in Louisiana, aside from the Mississippi, where sediment is still forming a delta. However, dredging for navigational purposes, along with oil and gas exploration, has impacted the area's wetlands and natural delta formation.

Efforts to combat the adverse affects of the navigational dredging include dredging projects with a new restoration purpose. The Atchafalaya delta contains two such projects, Big Island Mining (AT-03) and Atchafalaya Sediment Delivery (AT-02). These dredging projects seek to increase marsh habitat and promote natural delta development.

Restorational dredging and monitoring are funded under the Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection, and Restoration Act (Breaux-Johnston Act). Louisiana is the focus of the Act given that 40 percent of all wetlands in the contiguous United States are located there, and 80 percent of the nation's wetlands loss occurs in Louisiana.
Bering Glacier
Alaska
Bering Glacier Poster
Alaska's Bering Glacier is the largest and longest glacier in continental North America. The length is 190 kilometers (118 miles), and the width is 40 kilometers (nearly 25 miles). Between 15 - 20 percent of all glacial ice in Alaska is contained within Bering Glacier. Bering Glacier originates in Canada and flows toward the Gulf of Alaska.

The Bering Glacier has a history of short-lived surges. In 1996, its size reached a late twentieth century maximum. Since then, parts of Bering Glacier's terminus have retreated more than three miles and have thinned by more than 200 feet. Long-term monitoring efforts will enable scientists to better understand how global climate change is affecting high latitude environments.
Bonanza Creek Experimental Forest
Alaska
Located in the boreal forest of interior Alaska, the Bonanza Creek Experimental Forest is about 20 miles southwest of Fairbanks. This 12,486-acre forest is part of the National Science Foundation's Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) Program.

Research focuses on understanding the long-term consequences of climate change and disturbances in the upland and floodplain landscapes as it relates to forest dynamics and biogeochemistry. The disturbance agents include wildfire, insect infestations, alluvial deposition and erosion, snow and ice damage, and permafrost changes.
Cape Cod National Seashore
Massachusetts
 - Chatham  - Nauset Marsh  - Provincetown Hatches  - Wellfleet Herring  - Wellfleet Ponds
This study area is located near the town of Wellfleet, Massachusetts, and covers a section of the Herring River. Wellfleet is about seventy-five miles out into the Atlantic Ocean on the outer end of Cape Cod. Sixty-one percent of the land area of Wellfleet is in the Cape Cod National Seashore Park.

Cape Cod is a large peninsula extending 60 miles into the Atlantic Ocean from the coast of Massachusetts. Located on the outer portion of the Cape, Cape Cod National Seashore's 44,600 acres encompass a rich mosaic of marine, estuarine, fresh water, and terrestrial ecosystems. These systems and their associated habitats reflect the Cape's glacial origin, dynamic natural processes, and thousands of years of human activity.

Scientists are interested in several areas of research in Cape Cod. A majority of the coastal wetlands in Massachusetts have been lost in this century, along with wetland habitat for a number of species. Highly productive coastal wetland habitats play important roles in nutrient cycling, as nursery-grounds for marine species, and in buffering coastal storms. Groundwater is especially vulnerable to contamination. In addition, coastal beaches and dunes are dynamic and subject to erosion and instability. Formal research includes the Cape Cod National Seashore long-term Ecosystem Monitoring Program.
Caribou Poker Creek Research
Watershed, Alaska
Caribou Poker Creeks Research Watershed is a pristine 10,400-hectare basin located in the boreal forest north of Fairbanks, Alaska. The watershed is reserved for ecological, hydrological, and climatic research. The site is administered jointly by the State of Alaska and the University of Alaska Fairbanks. The primary research at the site is conducted by the Bonanza Creek Long Term Ecological Research Program and the Water and Environmental Research Center.

Research at the site is conducted to understand hydrologic changes associated with different permafrost distributions and monitoring environmental changes following an experimental prescribed burn.
Cedar Creek Natural History Area
Minnesota
Established in 1942, Cedar Creek Natural History Area is a large ecological research site in central Minnesota with natural habitats that represent the entire state. The site encompasses 2,200-hectares of diverse landscape, including forests, savannas, prairies, wetlands, and lakes. The site has been a member of the Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) Program since 1982.

Cedar Creek is located at the meeting point of the three largest ecosystems of North America. The high prairies of the west, the northern evergreen forests of the mid-west, and the deciduous forest of the east all converge at Cedar Creek. Research projects focus on understanding the biodiversity of the region; this includes identifying the number of different species living within the site. Also, large-scale experiments examine how localized environmental changes may affect the entire globe.
Chesapeake Bay - Catlett Island
Virginia
As the nation's largest estuary, the Chesapeake Bay contains a diverse collection of habitats, including oyster reefs, seagrass beds, tidal wetlands, sandy shoals and mudflats. In order to address the diversity of habitats, the Chesapeake Bay Reserve, Virginia, established a multi-site system from tidal freshwater to high salinity conditions along the York River estuary. Catlett Island is one of these sites.

Catlett Island is located on the north shore of the York River in Gloucester County, Virginia, about 19 nautical miles upstream from the river's mouth. The island's habitats include forested uplands and wetlands, tidal creeks, extensive marshes, emergent wetlands, and shallow subtidal areas.

The reserve is a designated reserve under the National Estuarine Research Reserve System (NERRS). NERRS is a network of protected areas established to improve the health of the nation's estuaries and coastal habitats by developing and providing information that promotes informed resource management.
Chesapeake Bay - Goodwin Islands
Virginia
As the nation's largest estuary, the Chesapeake Bay contains a diverse collection of habitats, including oyster reefs, seagrass beds, tidal wetlands, sandy shoals and mudflats. In order to address the diversity of habitats, the Chesapeake Bay Reserve, Virginia, established a multi-site system from tidal freshwater to high salinity conditions along the York River estuary. The Goodwin Islands are part of this system.

The Goodwin Islands are located at the mouth of the York River in southeastern Mobjack Bay. The main island includes forested wetlands and uplands, as well as extensive developing wetlands. Many smaller marsh islands are separated from each other by tidal channels. The islands are separated from the mainland by the Sand Box Thorofare and are bounded on the north by the York River and on the east and south by the Chesapeake Bay.

The Chesapeake Bay Reserve, Virginia, is a designated reserve under the National Estuarine Research Reserve System (NERRS). NERRS is a network of protected areas established to improve the health of the nation's estuaries and coastal habitats by developing and providing information that promotes informed resource management.
Clark Fork
Montana
This study site follows a portion of the Clark Fork river near Deer Lodge, Montana. Deer Lodge is the county seat of Powell County, Montana.

Clark Fork river and its associated flood plain are part of an Environmental Protection Agency Superfund study site, selected because of extensive contamination from mine tailings resulting from a large flood in 1908. The contaminated soils have contributed to extensive thinning of woody riparian vegetation over the past several decades, making the river susceptible to high bank erosion rates. To mitigate the erosion, mature shrubs were planted around some of the cut-banks in 2001. The anticipated start of full-scale cleanup for this superfund site is 2009, and cleanup may take 10 to 12 years. Data from the GFP will help scientists determine the effectiveness of these efforts.
Cottonwood Lake
North Dakota
The Cottonwood Lake area is located in the Missouri Coteau of east-central North Dakota. The Missouri Coteau is a large glacial stagnation moraine within the prairie pothole region of North America. This region represents an area of approximately 800,000 km2 in 5 States and 3 Provinces. Hundreds of thousands of wetlands known as prairie potholes or sloughs within the prairie pothole region produce 50 to 80% of the continent's waterfowl. Wetlands in the Cottonwood Lake area are typical of the prairie wetlands found within glacial moraines of the prairie pothole region and the study area includes U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service National Waterfowl Production Areas. Wetlands within the National Waterfowl Production Areas are natural and relatively unaltered, expect for occasional controlled burns of upland vegetation to control non-native vegetation encroachment.

The relation of waterfowl to the hydrological, chemical, and biological characteristics and processes in Cottonwood Lake area wetlands has been studied since the mid 1960s by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Geological Survey, including scientists from several Universities. Examination of changing wetland water levels in relation to changes in the groundwater flow system, atmospheric precipitation, and evapotranspiration has been an integral part of the study. Some wetlands in the Cottonwood Lake area only contain water for weeks or months each year, while other wetlands contain water throughout the year in all but the driest years. The relation of the wetlands to groundwater and documentation of changing water levels, as a function of variable climate conditions, have been keys in understanding waterfowl use of the wetlands and waterfowl productivity.

Episodic drier or wetter conditions are typical in the semiarid prairie pothole region, primarily in response to shifts in the relation between atmospheric precipitation and evapotranspiration. Nearly all Cottonwood Lake area wetlands became dry in 1988 to 1992, when water levels declined by as much as a meter, followed by rising water levels beginning in 1993, increasing by as much as 4 meters in some wetlands by 2000. Proxy climate records from the sediments of Devils Lake, a large inland drainage lake north of the Cottonwood Lake Wetlands area, indicates the present wetter period, in terms of water levels, may be the wettest in the past 500 years. The same proxy climate record indicates the area has experienced numerous dry periods in the past, surpassing those observed during 1988 to 1992 and in the 1930s.
Coweeta Hydrologic Laboratory
North Carolina
Coweeta Basin is located in the southern Appalachians of SW North Carolina. This 2,185-hectare forest is part of the National Science Foundation's Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) Program.

This site has been managed as a long-term hydrological laboratory by the U.S. Forest Service since 1936 and a member of the LTER network since 1980. This site is the focal point of numerous biophysical studies. Research at Coweeta combines short-term (five years or less) and long-term (decadal) studies on the response of forested watersheds and streams to natural and human-induced disturbances.
East Fork Toklat
Alaska
East Fork Glacier is located within Denali National Park and Preserve, Alaska at the head of the East Fork River, approximately 32 miles west of Park Headquarters.

Glacier systems are dominant and dynamic physical features of Denali. Because they are regulated solely by climate fluctuations, they provide a reliable record of past climate. Monitoring changes in Denali's glaciers (extent and mass balance) provides a measure of climate that can be compared with other climatic zones. Alaskan glaciers are showing an accelerated rate of melting. About half of the estimated loss of mass by glaciers worldwide has been contributed by Alaska glaciers.

The East Fork Glacier is of interest due to its high span in elevation and simple geometry. It is relatively small encompassing 2400 acres (959 hectares). The glacier is receding relatively slowly at less than 20 meters per year. However, the glacier is experiencing one of the highest thinning rates of the approximately 50 glaciers that are currently being monitored within the state.
East Timbalier Island
Louisiana
East Timbalier Island is located in Lafourche Parish, Louisiana. East Timbalier is part of a barrier island chain that separates Terrebonne and Timbalier Bays from the Gulf of Mexico. Losing an average of 70 feet per year, the island experienced one of the highest Gulf Coast erosion rates in Louisiana in the last century.

About 400 acres of the island are vegetated, while the remainder is composed of tidal flats and shallow, submerged aquatic habitat. East Timbalier Island supports an abundantly diverse and rich fishery and serves as a prime nesting habitat for many migratory waterfowl. Oil and gas operations are also located on and near the island.

To date, restoration efforts have proved unsuccessful. Restoration projects were funded under the Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection, and Restoration Act (Breaux-Johnston Act). Louisiana is the focus of the Act given that 40 percent of all wetlands in the contiguous United States are located there, and 80 percent of the nation's wetlands loss occurs in Louisiana.
Everglades - Loxahatchee, NWR
Florida
The Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge (NWR), all that remains of the once vast northern Everglades, is located seven miles west of the city of Boynton Beach in Palm Beach County, Florida. Today, a major part of the refuge management effort is controlling exotic and invasive plants. Invasive exotic plants pose a serious threat to the whole South Florida ecosystem, especially to native plant communities and wildlife habitats. These alien plants, lacking natural predators and insects to keep them in check, rapidly expand forming dense forests or thickets that are undesirable for humans and wildlife. Issues that scientists are currently examining in this particular area include the impacts of agricultural runoff from breaches in a drainage canal, along with seasonal rise and fall of water levels.

The Everglades, a broad, shallow subtropical river system, comprise a vast, interconnected mosaic of distinct ecosystems in Florida. The mosaic of habitats found within the greater Everglades ecosystem supports an assemblage of plant and animal species not found elsewhere on the planet. These ecosystems are in a state of constant change subject to a full suite of environmental processes.

Water in south Florida once flowed freely from the Kissimmee River to Lake Okeechobee and southward over low-lying lands to the estuaries of Biscayne Bay. Beginning with the Swampland Act of 1845, and later the 1907 Everglades Drainage Act, excessive drainage activities occurred in the Everglades to pave the way for agriculture and population expansion. The harmful side effects of dredging and draining were apparent early in this century. As early as 1928, effort was underway to designate a National Park. Despite the conservation efforts, degradation of the ecosystem continued. Ongoing scientific studies strive to understand these ecosystem changes and predict future changes.
Fairbanks
Alaska
The city of Fairbanks, Alaska occupies 33 square miles of the Tanana River Valley at the confluence with the Chena River. Fairbanks is Alaska's second largest city with a population of approximately 31,000. The city is a regional hub for major economic resources including natural resources industry, transportation, and a growing urban employment center. Due to its inland and northerly position (near the Arctic Circle), Fairbanks experiences significant changes in solar heat throughout the year, triggering some of the most extreme weather conditions of any urban environment in the country. The Arctic climate allows for permafrost conditions to exist in the region around Fairbanks. The melting of permafrost has become a problem in some areas of Fairbanks, causing damage to buildings and other infrastructure in the city.

Long-term monitoring of the environment around Fairbanks allows scientists to better understand the effects of global climate change and its impact on the interior of Alaska. The rapid urbanization of the city combined with a loss of natural habitat creates stress upon the permafrost conditions that are prevalent throughout the region.
Fire Island
New York
Fire Island is a barrier island located less than 100 kilometers (60 mi) from Manhattan and attracts significant tourism to its national, state and county parks. The mainland (Long Island) is densely developed and the barrier island provides protection from the impact of large storm events. The island and bay support critical ecotypes such as piping plover habitat and marsh environments and the coastal ocean supports a local fishing industry. The beach has heavy recreational use and the island has a variety of land use types including pristine wilderness areas, developed communities and recreational facilities. The National Park Service (NPS) and Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) have established natural resource monitoring programs in place for Fire Island that benefit from imagery from multiple sources. Extreme storms in the 1990s caused widespread erosion. A proposed management strategy for erosion mitigation is to regularly nourish beaches with sediment dredged from the adjacent inner shelf. Such practices conflict with the NPS and the FWS missions which favor allowing natural processes to operate, especially undeveloped portions of the park. More recent storms in 2005, 2007, 2009 and Hurricane Nor-Ida in 2011 caused substantial change to the beach. Regular monitoring of the beach will help inform predictive models of coastal vulnerability. The USGS currently has a major data collection effort underway at Fire Island (Coastal Change Processes Project).
Gulkana Glacier
Alaska
Gulkana Glacier is one of three USGS benchmark glaciers with a 50 year long record of glacier fluctuations that document climate change patterns in the Northeast Pacific. The other two are South Cascade Glacier in Washington State and Wolverine Glacier in Alaska.

Gulkana Glacier is located in the interior of Alaska, and it is about 8 km long and ranges in altitude from 1300 to 2200 meters. It is a continental glacier, and as such it colder and drier, receiving only 3 to 4 m of snow each winter, which is much less than maritime glaciers. This glacier is characteristic of the many glaciers in this region.

Scientists today are investigating the retreat of Gulkana Glacier and the impact of glacier retreat on the downstream hydrology and ecology as the glacier responds to climate change. Measurements of glacier fluctuations over the past 50 years have documented climate change patterns in Alaska and are being used to assess the contribution of shrinking mountain glaciers to global sea level rise.
Gulkana River
Alaska
 -  GFP Site 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19
The Gulkana River was designated as one of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers in 1980 and is administered by the Bureau of Land Management. The Gulkana River Watershed drains approximately 2,140 square miles of Southcentral Alaska. The river begins in the Alaska Range near Summit Lake and flows south into the Copper River, eventually draining into Prince William Sound. Several hundred lakes and ponds are scattered throughout the spruce-dominated forest of the Gulkana River Watershed. The Gulkana River is one of Alaska's most popular sport-fishing rivers and is an important king and red salmon spawning stream. It is also an important area for various waterfowl migration patterns and nesting sites.
Harvard Forest
Massachusetts
The Harvard Forest is comprised of approximately 3,000 acres of land in Petersham, Massachusetts that include mixed hardwood and conifer forests, ponds, extensive spruce and maple swamps, and diverse plantations. Since 1907, Harvard University has used the site as an ecological research facility.

Additional land holdings include the 25-acre Pisgah Forest in southwestern New Hampshire, a virgin forest of white pine and hemlock that was 300 years old when it blew down in a 1938 Hurricane; the 100-acre Matthews Plantation in Hamilton, Massachusetts, which is largely comprised of conifer plantations; and the 90-acre Tall Timbers Forest in Royalston, Massachusetts.

Two major research programs facilitate ongoing research in the Harvard Forest. The long-term Ecological Research (LTER) program is funded by the National Science Foundation. The Harvard Forest LTER was established in 1988 to investigate the structure, function, and dynamics of natural ecosystems in New England. The National Institutes of Global Environmental Change Program was established in 1990 with funding from the Department of Energy. This program emphasized studies of physical and biological processes relevant to climate change.
Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest
New Hampshire
The 3,138-hectare Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest is located in the White Mountain National Forest of central New Hampshire. The forest is covered in second growth northern hardwoods and contains a network of streams, which are ideal for watershed research. The forest was established in 1955 as a major center for hydrologic research and became part of the Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) Program in 1988.

Research at the site is used to document and assess ecological effects of anthropogenic disturbances at regional, national and global scales, including environmental effects from water and air pollution and climate change.
Imnavait
Alaska
Imnavait is a part of the Arctic LTER research site in the foothills region of the North Slope of Alaska. The LTER includes the entire Toolik Lake watershed. Imnavait is just north of Toolik Lake. Since the long term goal of the Arctic LTER is to predict the effects of environmental change, studying the ecology of the tundra, streams, and lakes in this area provides data for modeling the ecosystems.

Typical of the northern foothills of the Brooks Range, there is continuous permafrost, no trees, complete snow cover for 7 to 9 months, winter ice cover on lakes, streams, and ocean, with river flow cessation during the winter. Tussock tundra is the dominant vegetation type, however, there are extensive areas of drier heath tundra on ridge tops and other well-drained sites. There are also areas of river-bottom willow communities. The entire region is underlain by continuous permafrost, which exerts a major influence on the structure, distributions, and function of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems.
Jornada Experimental Range
New Mexico
The Jornada Experimental Range is located about 16 miles northeast of Las Cruces, New Mexico in the northern Chihuahuan Desert, the largest desert in North America and one of the largest deserts in the world. Once abundant grasslands, the site has suffered the consequences from the grazing of large cattle herds in the 1800s, periodic droughts, climate change, and now urbanization occurring in close proximity.

A Presidential Executive Order in 1912 established the Jornada Experimental Range. Early field research by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) focused on desertification and rangeland management. In 1981, the Jornada Experimental Range became part of the National Science Foundation's (NSF) long-term ecological research (LTER) network.

Today, scientists from New Mexico State University, USDA, NSF, and other organizations collaborate on various research projects. The Jornada Basin LTER originally focused on understanding the processes of desertification. Current research involves ecosystem processes as a basis for management and remediation of desert rangelands, and increasingly, the impact of climate change. Combined with New Mexico's State University Chihuahuan Desert Rangeland Research Center, the Jornada Experimental Range creates a block of 104,166 hectares devoted to LTER research.
Kellogg Biological Station
Michigan
The Kellogg Biological Station is located in southwest Michigan, approximately 50 km east of Lake Michigan. This 1,600-hectare site is part of the National Science Foundation's Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) Program. Land use around Kellogg Biological Station ranges from rural agricultural land to urban (represented by the town of Kalamazoo). Cropping systems in the area are typical of the Corn Belt with corn and soybean being rotated with wheat and alfalfa.

The diversity of land use, soil properties, vegetation types, and aquatic habitats in the area is high. This provides an ideal environment for the long-term study of cropping systems and the ecological interactions underlying the productivity of both annual and perennial field crops. Research is focused on understanding the role of biotic simplification as a function of row crop ecosystem management. This is accomplished by studying the patterns, causes and consequences of changes to agricultural community complexity monitored over successive seasons.
Konza Prairie Research Natural Area
Kansas
Konza Prairie is located in the Flint Hills region of northeastern Kansas. The Flint Hills contain the largest remaining area of unplowed tallgrass prairie in North America. This 3,487-hectare site is part of the National Science Foundation's Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) Program. The site is owned by the Nature Conservancy and administered by Kansas State University.

The site is dedicated to a three-fold mission of long-term ecological research, education, and prairie conservation. It is a unique outdoor laboratory that provides opportunities for the study of tallgrass prairie ecosystems and for basic biological research. The site also serves as a benchmark for comparisons with areas that have been affected by human activities. It also hosts an environmental education facility for students and the public.
Las Vegas Valley
Nevada
This study area is located in Las Vegas, Clark County, Nevada. The Las Vegas Wash is a natural drainage channel that drains the 1,600-square-mile Las Vegas Valley, carrying the flow of storm water, urban runoff, and highly treated wastewater from urban Las Vegas to Lake Mead. Lake Mead is the nation's largest manmade reservoir and the primary water supply for millions of people in Nevada, Arizona, and southern California. A wetland system has formed along Las Vegas Wash that supports a variety of plant and animal life.

Early explorers moved up Las Vegas Wash toward an oasis of spring-fed meadows at the present site of Las Vegas. Mormons first settled Las Vegas in the mid 1800s, but the city was just a stop along the railroad for the first part of this century. The city's first population growth spurt occurred in the 1930s. The construction of Hoover Dam on the nearby Colorado River began in 1931 along with legalizing gambling. Today, Las Vegas is one of the fastest growing metropolitan areas in the county with a significant tourist population. As the city has grown, the land has subsided.

The rapid population growth and commensurate increased ground-water use have resulted in a rapid and continuing decline in ground-water levels. Surface water was no longer flowing by the 1940s and few springs in Las Vegas are now active. Rapid municipal growth has also resulted in a continuous increase in waste water processed through the sewage treatment plants and discharged into the lower portion of the Las Vegas Wash. The increase in water flow from waste water and storm events is causing erosion in the Wash. This erosion, along with sediment transport, has led to channel destabilization, resulting in a loss of wetlands and habitat.
Luquillo Experimental Forest
Puerto Rico
Luquillo Experimental Forest is located in the Luquillo Mountains of central Puerto Rico and contained within the Caribbean National Forest. This 11,330-hectare forest has been a part of the National Science Foundation's Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) Program since 1988.

Research at the site is focused on integrating studies of disturbance regime, forest structure and dynamics with a landscape perspective. Long-term measurements of hydrological and nutrient fluxes in watersheds are critical to understanding the effects of natural and human-induced changes to the landscape and their impact on the environment. Ongoing projects study watershed volume changes over time and how they affect the landscape.
Mammoth Mountain
California
Mammoth Mountain is a young volcano on the southwest rim of the 750,000-year-old Long Valley Caldera, a large volcanic depression, just east of Yosemite National Park in eastern California. The elevation of Mammoth Mountain's summit is 11,053 feet. The surrounding area is known for superb skiing, hiking, and camping, and has been volcanically active for about 4 million years.

The latest magmatic eruptions at Mammoth Mountain took place about 57,000 years ago. Phreatic (steam blast) eruptions took place about 700 years ago from vents on the north side of Mammoth Mountain. Mammoth Mountain is surrounded by at least 25 vents that are part of the same magmatic systems, including Red Cones, two closely spaced cinder cones. Recent volcanic unrest includes small Earthquakes, gas emission, and tree kill, thought to be related to a dike intrusion beneath Mammoth Mountain in 1989.

The site is also a NASA supersite snow surface energy exchange study. Scientists are studying the snow-water equivalency, capacity, and timing for reservoir management as a water supply and to prevent flooding in times of excessive precipitation.
Molasses Reef Sanctuary
Preservation Area, Florida
Molasses Reef is located within the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. This Sanctuary Preservation Area (SPA) is located approximately 11 km southwest of Key Largo, Florida. The Reef contains a significant number of boulder corals and has a well-developed spur-and-groove system that includes a deep wall. Molasses Reef is easily accessible by boat and is the most heavily visited reef in the Upper Keys for diving. The SPA for Molasses Reef covers an area of approximately 90-hectares.

Long-term monitoring of the Sanctuary is essential to understanding the health of the coral reef and learning about the interdependent habitats that are part of this ecosystem. These habitats include fringing mangroves, seagrass meadows, and hard bottom regions along with patch and bank reefs.
Mount Mitchell
North Carolina
Mount Mitchell is located in the Black Mountains of western North Carolina, approximately 35 miles north of Ashville, just off the Blue Ridge Parkway. At 6,684 feet, Mount Mitchell is the highest peak in the United States east of the Mississippi River. The summit is located within Mount Mitchell State Park, while Pisgah National Forest administers the surrounding area.

The forests of Mount Mitchell have been greatly impacted by extensive logging, forest fires, and invasive species. The chestnut blight and balsam woolly adelgid have decimated the native forest on the higher peaks. Research focuses on monitoring the re-vegetation of these mountains and studying the long-term effects of air pollution and acid rain on the ecological succession of high altitude subtropical forests.
Mount Rainier
Washington
Mount Rainier poses significant dangers and potential economic risks to the Pacific Northwest region. The nearby Seattle-Tacoma metropolitan area has a population of more than 2.5 million and its drainage system via the Columbia River potentially impacts another 500,000 residents of southwestern Washington and northwestern Oregon. Mount Rainier is the most hazardous volcano in the Cascades in terms of its potential for major eruptions and lahars. Additionally, as one of the most accessible alpine environments within the Marine West Coast climatic regime Mount Rainier exhibits a plethora of ecological research opportunities on the effects of climate change. Warming temperatures and declining snowfall enable trees to grow where they once couldn't, creeping into alpine meadows. The chemistry and hydrology of mountain ponds is changing, which has an effect on local biota. Melting glaciers release rock and silt debris, affecting mountain streams and rivers, which are experiencing dramatic increases in flooding and debris flows.
Narragansett Bay
Rhode Island
The 1,724-hectare Narragansett Bay Reserve is located in the geographic center of Narragansett Bay, 12 miles south of Providence, Rhode Island. The Reserve includes open water habitat, eelgrass meadows, tidal flats, salt marshes, freshwater wetlands and ponds, as well as upland fields and forest.

The National Estuarine Research Reserve (NERR) System is a network of protected areas established to improve the health of the Nation's estuaries and coastal habitats by developing and providing information that promotes informed resource management. Coastal erosion, land cover change, and hydrologic changes are monitored to promote sustainable management of the natural resources.
Niwot Ridge
Colorado
Niwot Ridge is a Long-Term Ecological Research Site (LTER) located in an alpine tundra area approximately 25 miles west of Boulder, Colorado. The entire site lies above 3,000 meters in elevation. The site has a variety of landforms including alpine tundra, glacial landforms and lakes, moraines, cirques and talus slopes, and permafrost. The site assists in the understanding of the Colorado Front Range by providing an invaluable data for studying interactions with climate and ecosystems at extreme elevations.
Panola Mountain
Georgia
Panola Mountain is a 100-acre monadnock (mountain), often compared to Stone Mountain. Panola Mountain State Conservation Park surrounds Panola Mountain. Panola Mountain State Conservation Park is about 18 miles southeast of Atlanta along the borders of Henry and Rockdale counties. The South River flows through the park. The National Park Service has designated the park as a National Natural Landmark.

The Panola Mountain Research Watershed contains a naturally regenerated second-growth forest on abandoned agricultural land, typical of the Piedmont. The forests in this part of the Piedmont were first settled and extensively cleared in the early 1800s. Subsistence farming was replaced with cotton production after 1893, resulting in extensive gullying and erosion of topsoil. Scientists are studying streamflow generation, especially how water and solutes (dissolved particles) move from slopes of hills to the stream. Research also includes atmospheric deposition and carbon cycling. The watershed's soils and the forest may be important sinks for carbon in the Southeastern United States.
Patuxent Research Refuge
Maryland
Established in 1936 by Executive Order of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, the Patuxent Research Refuge is the Nation's only National Wildlife Refuge created to support wildlife research. With land surrounding the Patuxent and Little Patuxent Rivers between Washington, D.C. and Baltimore, Maryland, the Refuge has grown from the original 2,670 acres to its present size of 12,841 acres and encompasses land formerly managed by the departments of Agriculture and Defense.

Patuxent Research Refuge supports a wide diversity of wildlife in forest, meadow, and wetland habitats. Land management includes maintaining biological diversity for the protection and benefit of native and migratory species. During the fall and spring migrations, many waterfowl species stop to rest and feed. Over 200 species of birds are found on the refuge.

Increased forest fragmentation in the area due to urban development has damaged many populations of neotropical migratory birds. The refuge is one of the largest forested areas in the mid-Atlantic region and provides critical breeding habitat and an important nesting area for these species.

Today, the U.S. Geological Survey conducts most of the research on the refuge through the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Laurel, Maryland. The research center serves as an "outdoor laboratory" addressing research and monitoring questions concerning effects of urbanization on natural systems. The research center has monitoring programs for both animal and vegetative species, with data from surveys conducted from the 1940s to present.
Pawnee National Grasslands
Colorado
The semiarid Great Plains of North America comprises a mosaic of native grassland and cropland adjacent to the eastern face of the Rocky Mountain chain. The Pawnee National Grasslands is located in Weld County in northeastern Colorado, near the town of Briggsdale. This shortgrass prairie ecosystem is bordered on the north by the high plains with a transition zone between known as the Chalk Bluffs. Motivation for careful evaluation and monitoring of this region at the end of the 20th century comes from two sources. First, the Great Plains contains the major wheat producing areas for the entire continent, in addition to the important grazing lands for livestock. Second, current models of atmospheric circulation indicate the climatic change, as a result of increased greenhouse gases, will be relatively larger here than in most other parts of temperate North America. The combination of socioeconomic importance and vulnerability of the region to both climatic fluctuations and climate change make it essential that we expand our understanding of long-term ecological relationships, particularly climate and land use ecosystems interactions. The Federal government created the Pawnee Grassland during the 1930s Dust Bowl timeframe to reclaim land that had previously been farmed. Numerous pre-historical and historical sites are in the area, on both public and private land. The public land is currently managed by the U.S. Forest Service.
Pecan Island
Louisiana
The Pecan Island study area is located in southeastern Vermillion Parish, Louisiana, approximately five miles north of the Gulf of Mexico, just south of Pecan Island and Louisiana Highway 82.

In the mid-1950s continuous dikes were constructed and water was pumped off the marsh, transforming it into dry pastureland. The soil elevations subsided one to two feet due to oxidation. Deterioration and loss of perimeter levees in recent years converted the entire area into a shallow, open water lake with a few small marsh islands, resulting in a net loss of fisheries habitat.

The Pecan Island Terracing (ME-14) restoration project consists of Earthen terraces constructed in shallow water areas designed to convert areas of open water back to vegetated marsh. Dredging projects were funded under the Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection, and Restoration Act (Breaux-Johnston Act). Louisiana is the focus of the Act given that 40 percent of all wetlands in the contiguous United States are located there, and 80 percent of the nation's wetlands loss occurs in Louisiana.
Puget Sound - Commencement Bay
Washington
Commencement Bay is the harbor for the City of Tacoma, Washington, located at the southern end of Puget Sound. Puget Sound is an estuary, a semi-enclosed coastal body of water with a large freshwater input. The Commencement Bay section of Puget Sound is representative of a partially mixed estuary. In the early 1900s, the inter-tidal areas and tidal flats of the Puyallup River Delta were filled in and meandering streams were channelized, resulting in the creation of eight waterways into the Bay.

The study of Commencement Bay offers a unique look at the health of the aquatic environment for the Bay. Research focuses on monitoring changes in near-shore sediment transport patterns, tidal flat aggregation and erosion rates, and vegetation processes and patterns.
Puget Sound - Nisqually
Washington
Nisqually Delta is located east of the city of Olympia, Washington where the Nisqually River enters the Puget Sound. The site is administered jointly by the Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge, Nisqually Indian Tribe, and the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife. This delta contains a variety of ecosystems including estuaries, shorelines, riparian, inter-tidal and submerged aquatic vegetation zones. The area consists of a mix of urban developed lands, rural undeveloped areas and agricultural lands. Some areas are permanently protected from development through public ownership.

The long-term monitoring of aquatic habitats in relation to adjacent land use change is the primary focus of this site. These data are linked through watershed process models to determine correlations. The models concentrate on watershed and shoreline processes that create and maintain aquatic habitat assemblages and on areas where process-based habitat restoration is ongoing or planned.
Rookery Bay
Florida
The Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve is located at the northern end of the Ten Thousand Islands on the Gulf Coast of Florida near the city of Naples, Florida. Rookery Bay represents one of the few remaining undisturbed mangrove estuaries in North America. The site is administered cooperatively by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection Office of Coastal and Aquatic Managed Areas and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Long-term monitoring of Rookery Bay is conducted to better understand natural processes and human impacts within the estuary. This monitoring allows the tracking of environmental changes in estuarine ecosystems. Water quality monitoring is critical to understanding the health of the estuary. Monitoring of water conditions allows researchers to track short-term variability and long-term changes in the status of estuarine waters. Locally, findings have been used to improve water management policies and to guide restoration plans.
Sandhills Lake
Nebraska
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Crescent Lake National Wildlife Refuge is located in the Nebraska Sand Hills. The Sand Hills are the largest stabilized dune field in the Western Hemisphere, occupying an area of approximately 52,000 km2. Dune heights of 15 m are common in the Sand Hills region which is vegetated by mixed-grass prairie. Approximately 1,640 shallow lakes greater than 4 ha in area and 2, 400 intermittent lakes (playas) are interspersed among the sand dunes of the region. The lakes and wetlands of the region are important resources for waterfowl. Lakes in the Crescent Lake National Wildlife Refuge are characteristic of areas where the water table has high regional slope and low local relief within the Sand Hills region. Lakes in the Refuge are shallow (~1 m deep), natural, and relatively unaltered.

Groundwater levels at the Crescent Lake National Wildlife Refuge have been measured since the 1930s by the Conservation and Survey Division at the University of Nebraska- Lincoln in cooperation with the U.S. Geological Survey. Physical and chemical characteristics of the lakes were documented in the early 1970s by the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission. Hydrological, chemical, and biological characteristics and processes in lakes within the Refuge have been studied by scientists from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and the U.S. Geological Survey since the 1970s. Examination of changing lake-water levels in relation to changes in groundwater levels, the groundwater flow system, atmospheric precipitation, and evapotranspiration has been an integral part of the study of the lakes since the early 1980s.

The Sandhills region is semiarid. At the Refuge average annual evaporation exceeds annual average atmospheric precipitation by 0.7 m. Shifts in the relation between atmospheric precipitation and evapotranspiration are related to changes in groundwater and lake-water levels. The presence of water in the lakes throughout the year is a function of groundwater input through the highly permeable dune sands. Lake-water levels commonly change by approximately 0.4 m during an individual year. A shift to wetter conditions in 1993 resulted in an overall increase in water levels of 0.5 m, representing an approximately 1 m increase in relation to yearly water-level lows observed in the previous decade. Proxy climate records obtained by scientists from the University of Minnesota from the sediments of Swan Lake, a lake just west of the Refuge, indicate episodic fluctuations between wetter and drier conditions are characteristic of the area. In addition, groundwater and lake-water levels were much lower 3,700 years before present, based on the proxy climate record.
Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge
New Mexico
Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge is located 80 kilometers south of Albuquerque, New Mexico along the middle Rio Grande Valley. This site is part of the National Science Foundation's Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) Program. The site is managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and is positioned at the intersection of several major biotic zones: Chihuahuan Desert and shrubland to the south, Great Plains grassland to the north, and Pinon-Juniper woodland in the higher elevations of the neighboring mountains. This setting provides an ideal environment to study how climate variability and environmental change act together to effect ecosystem dynamics at biotic transition zones.

Research at Sevilleta is organized around three interrelated system components: abiotic drivers, ecosystem processes, and biotic responses and feedbacks. The primary abiotic drivers are (1) seasonal, annual and decadal variations in climate, (2) geomorphology, and surface hydrology, and (3) seasonal and periodicity of fire. Through these long-term studies, scientists will improve their understanding of the natural dynamics of ecosystems in the heterogeneous landscape of central New Mexico.
Shenandoah National Park
Virginia
 -  Big Meadows  -  Old Rag  -  Paine Moormans  -  Piney River  -  Sawmill Run
Shenandoah National Park includes 300 square miles of the Blue Ridge Mountains in the Southern Appalachians, one of the oldest mountain ranges in the world. The Park rises above the Virginia Piedmont to its east and the Shenandoah Valley to its west. Sawmill Run is the site of a popular park overlook with breathtaking mountain vistas and is a treasured stop on the path of many hikers.

The rounded, boulder strewn summits of Old Rag Mountain come from igneous and metamorphic rocks left over from a mountain range even older than the Appalachians. Over one billion years old, these rocks still form this dramatic topography.

Shenandoah National Park was established in December 1935. The Civilian Conservation Corps moved into the park area, and over 450 families of mountain residents were relocated from the Blue Ridge. The foundation of the Park's development was competed by the beginning of World War II.

Shenandoah's landscape is mostly forested, primarily hardwood. In the process of photosynthesis, converting light, water, and minerals into foods, green plants give off water. From a distance, this airborne water creates a faint haze giving the Blue Ridge its name. The elevations range from approximately 600 feet to slightly over 4,000 feet above sea level. The range of elevation, slopes and aspects of mountains and hillsides, rock and soil types, precipitation conditions and latitude interact to create a mix of habitats.

Major management issues for this national park include air quality/acid deposition, wildlife and fisheries management, vegetation management including non-native species, introduced forest pests, forest health, and changes in adjacent land use.
Shingobee
Minnesota
The Shingobee River Headwaters area is located in north-central Minnesota in a physiographic region known as the Itasca/St. Croix moraine interlobate area. This is an area characterized by a variety of landforms produced by glacial activity in the past. Numerous lakes, wetlands, and streams occur within these landforms which are vegetated by mixed deciduous-coniferous forest. The lakes, wetlands, and streams of the study area are characteristic of the region. Some lakes and wetlands have no connection to streams while others are connected by streams, and all of these surface waters are within a common surface-water and groundwater watershed.

The economic, recreational, and aesthetic values of lakes are of general interest. Because of interest in those values, dry conditions and declining lake levels in the late 1970s led to the initiation of the study of selected lakes in the Shingobee River Headwaters area by the U.S. Geological Survey in cooperation with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Division of Waters. Since 1977, hydrological, chemical, and biological characteristics and processes in lakes, wetlands, and streams at the site have been studied by the U.S. Geological Survey and scientists from the University of Minnesota and other universities. Examination of changing lake-water levels, wetland-water levels, and stream flow in relation to changes in the groundwater flow system, atmospheric precipitation, and evapotranspiration has been an integral part of the study. The relation of groundwater to lakes, wetlands, and streams in the study area has been essential to understanding changes in water levels and flow in response to variable climate conditions.

At the Shingobee River Headwaters study area annual average atmospheric precipitation equals annual average evaporation. Shifts in that balance, however, result in changes in groundwater and lake-water levels. When evaporation exceeded atmospheric precipitation on an annual basis from 1987 through 1992, water levels in Williams Lake, one of the lakes in the study area, declined by 1 m. Proxy climate records from Williams Lake sediments indicate that approximately 7,000 to 5,000 years ago the lake-water level was 4 m below modern levels. Thus, in a several year period Williams Lake water levels declined one quarter of the way towards the lower extreme of the past 10,000 years. When atmospheric precipitation exceeded evaporation on an annual basis beginning in 1993, water levels in Williams Lake began to increase such that by 2001 levels were similar to the recent peak of 1986, but have declined by 0.5 m since due to another shift in the balance between evaporation and atmospheric precipitation. Similar changes in water level occur in other lakes at the site.
Sierra Nevada Mountains
California
Sierra Nevada Snow Study is located 10 miles from Johnsondale, CA in the Sierra Nevada mountain range. Seasonal snow and glaciers comprise a major component of water resources for humans and the ecosystems in the mountains themselves and the lowlands below them. Snow distributions, snowmelt, rain on snow, and associated hydrologic processes vary with terrain, climate, and vegetation structure. Research at this site is conducted to understand how this heterogeneity affects hydrologic response.
Sleepers River
Vermont
The 11,137-hectare Sleepers River Research Watershed in northeastern Vermont was established by the Agricultural Research Service in 1959 and is now operated jointly by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and the U.S. Army Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory (CRREL). The USGS uses hydrologic measurements and chemical and isotopic tracing techniques to determine how water moves from the hill slopes to the stream. The processes that cause chemical changes, such as the neutralization of acid rain, are also studied. Research results provide insights on how pollutants move through ecosystems and how ecosystems may respond to climatic change.
Slumgullion Earth Flow
Colorado
The Slumgullion Earth flow, located in southwestern Colorado near the town of Lake City, is an excellent illustration of the geologic process of mass wasting. Approximately 700 years ago, a huge mass of decomposed volcanic rock slumped from the mountainside and flowed into the main valley where it spread down the mountain and blocked the Lake Fork of the Gunnison River. This natural dam formed what is known as Lake San Cristobal. The older flow is about four miles long and covers over 1000 acres. It is presently being overridden by a second earth flow that began about 300 years ago and is still active today. The new flow is estimated to be moving up to 20 feet per year.
South Cascade Glacier
Washington
South Cascade Glacier Poster
South Cascade Glacier is one of three USGS benchmark glaciers with a 50 year long record of glacier fluctuations that document climate change patterns in the Northeast Pacific. The other two are Wolverine Glacier and Gulkana Glacier in Alaska.

South Cascade Glacier, located in the North Cascade Mountains of Washington State, is 2.5 km long and ranges in altitude from 1650 to 2100 meters. It is a maritime glacier that receives prodigious winter snowpacks that vary from 6 to 8 m in thickness. The glacier is characteristic of the many glaciers in Washington State, which contains the greatest number of glaciers of any state except Alaska.

Scientists today are investigating the retreat of South Cascade Glacier and the impact of glacier retreat on the downstream hydrology and ecology as the glacier responds to climate change. Measurements of glacier fluctuation for the past 50 years have documented climate change in the Pacific Northwest and its teleconections to the climate in Alaska, and to assess the contribution of shrinking mountain glaciers to global sea level rise.
Toolik Lake East
Toolik Lake West
Alaska
Toolik Lake consists of two sites along the upper reaches of the Kuparuk River watershed, part of the Arctic LTER research site on the North Slope of Alaska. The Kuparuk River originates in the foothills of Alaska's Brooks Range and flows north-northeast to the Arctic Ocean, draining an area of 8,107 km2. The western site includes Toolik Lake Research Station where environmental monitoring is conducted. These data support research to understand how climate changes affect arctic terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. Both sites are located within the Toolik Lake Research Natural Area.

Tussock tundra is the dominant vegetation form growing on permafrost landscape, but there are extensive areas of wet sedge tundra, drier heath tundra on ridge tops, along with other well-drained sites and areas of river-bottom willow communities. It is classified as a clear-water tundra river because it has no input from glaciers and little input from springs.
Trout Lake
Wisconsin
Trout Lake, Wisconsin is part of the North Temperate Lakes Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) program established by the National Science Foundation to support research on long-term ecological phenomena of lake regions. The Trout Lake region specifically allows for the study of the ecology of lakes, the biophysical setting, climate, and land use that impact the characteristics of the area over time.
Upper San Pedro Watershed East
Upper San Pedro Watershed West
Arizona
The Upper San Pedro River originates near Cananea, Sonora, in Mexico and flows north into the United States near Palominas, Arizona. Congress designated the watershed as a National Riparian Conservation Area in 1988. Elevation ranges from 900 - 2,900m, and annual rainfall varies from 300 to 750mm. This watershed is one of the most biologically diverse locations in the world, supporting the second highest land-mammal diversity and providing habitat for almost 390 bird species.

The Upper San Pedro watershed embodies a variety of characteristics that make it an exceptional site for addressing a large number of scientific questions in arid and semi-arid physical, social, and policy sciences. The watershed represents a transition area between the Sonoran and Chihuahuan deserts. Topography, climate, and vegetation vary substantially across the watershed. The San Pedro River is an international basin with significantly different cross-border legal and land use practices.

Major changes in land cover have occurred over the last quarter century. The area is undergoing large urban expansion that threatens its water supply as well as the riparian and wildlife resources that depend on it. One primary ecotone of interest is the conversion and transition of desert grassland and desert scrub into other natural and anthropogenic land cover types, such as mesquite woodland or urban.
Virginia Coast Reserve - North
Virginia Coast Reserve - South
Virginia
The Virginia Coast Reserve (VCR) is a dynamic landscape located on Virginia's Eastern Shore along the Atlantic Coast. It consists of a barrier island chain and its associated tidal marshes and lagoons. The two VCR sites cover Parramore Island in the north and Hog Island in the south. The VCR has been a member of the Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) Program since 1987.

Research focuses on monitoring the changes in vegetation cover and biomass (e.g. leaf area index) of the barrier island-lagoon-mainland landscape of the Eastern Shore of Virginia. Recent large-scale erosion makes this site of particular interest in understanding barrier island dynamics. Long term monitoring at the site focuses on understanding the relationship between natural and anthropogenic forces on the ecology of a coastal barrier island, lagoon and mainland system.
Wango
Maryland
Wango is located along the Atlantic Coastal Plain in central Wicomico County, Maryland, just east of the city of Salisbury. The site contains a variety of land covers including wetlands, forest, pasture and open fields. Several small creeks that are tributaries to the Pocomoke River flow through this site. The Pocomoke flows into the Chesapeake Bay. The low elevation and smoothness of the land surface result in a high water table and extensive areas of palustrine wetlands.

Research at this site includes various wetland delineation and classification techniques used by different government organizations and administration bodies. Long-term monitoring of land cover changes, including the effects of wetland conversion on developed urban areas, is being studied to understand the landscape dynamics and consequences of land use policies.
Wolverine Glacier
Alaska
Wolverine Glacier is one of three USGS benchmark glaciers with a 50 year record of glacier fluctuations that document climate change patterns in the Northeast Pacific. The other two are South Cascade Glacier in Washington State and Gulkana Glacier in Alaska.

Wolverine Glacier is located on the Kenai Peninsula, on the south coast of Alaska. It is 7 km long and ranges in altitude from 500 to 1700 meters. It is a maritime glacier that receives deep winter snowpacks that can be greater than 8 m in thickness. The glacier is characteristic of the many glaciers in this region.

Scientists today are investigating the retreat of Wolverine Glacier and the impact of glacier retreat on the downstream hydrology and ecology as the glacier responds to climate change. Measurements of glacier fluctuations over the past 50 years have documented climate change patterns in Alaska and are being used to assess the contribution of shrinking mountain glaciers to global sea level rise.
Yosemite National Park - White Wolf
California
Yosemite National Park, known for its granite cliffs, waterfalls, giant sequoia groves and biological diversity, is located on the west slope of central California's Sierra Nevada Mountains. Retreating glaciers shaped Yosemite's awe-inspiring landscapes and unique landform features The National Park covers about 1,160 square miles and is home to hundreds of wildlife species and thousands of plants. About 90 percent of Yosemite is designated as a wilderness. Elevations range from 3,000 to over 13,000 feet, resulting in considerable climatic variation. White Wolf is one of four global fiducial sites within the park. White Wolf with an elevation of 8,000 feet is located north of Yosemite Valley.

While Yellowstone was the first national park ever established, Yosemite has the distinction of being the first example of the national park concept. Abraham Lincoln signed an 1864 bill granting Yosemite Valley and Mariposa Grove to the State of California for "public use, resort, and recreation." The land was later deeded back to the Federal government. Early naturalist, John Muir, helped spark the creation of Yosemite National Park in 1890. Yosemite became a World Heritage Site in 1984. Two Wild & Scenic Rivers, the Tuolumne and Merced rivers, begin with Yosemite and flow west into the Central Valley.

Researchers today are interested in investigating climate change, declining animal species, invasive plants removal, fire science, hydroclimatology, archeology, human carrying capacity issues and much more.
Cordillera Central
Colombia
The Cordillera Central range is one of the three branches of ridges in the Andes Mountains that split in southern Colombia towards the north up to the Montes de Maria. It extends from the Nudo de Almaguer, or the "Colombian Mountain Mass" in Cauca, located in southern Colombia, to the Serranía de San Lucas in Bolivar to the north. The range is bounded by the Cauca and Magdalena river valleys to the west and east, respectively. Cordillera Central is home to the Eje cafetero region as well as several volcanoes, including the Nevado del Ruiz as well as the volcanoes Santa Isabel, Nevado del Huila, and Nevado del Tolima. The images should capture the transition between heavy forests to scrub to the bare earth above the tree line.

This site will serve as a benchmark in a network of tall, equatorial mountains. Scientific study focuses on the effects of increased CO2 due to climate change on vegetation at high altitudes. A prior study demonstrated direct evidence of positive vegetation change due to increased photosynthesis from changes in CO2 at two sites. A fuller network is needed to determine whether similar changes are taking place in other areas and increase understanding of this effect.
Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta
Colombia
The Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta (Snowy Saw of Saint Martha) is an isolated mountain range apart from the Andes chain that runs through Colombia. Reaching an altitude of 5,700 meters above sea level just 42 kilometers from the Caribbean coast, the Sierra Nevada is the world's highest coastal range. The Sierra Nevada encompasses about 17,000 square-kilometers and serves as the source of 36 rivers. Its range covers the Magdalena Department, Cesar Department and La Guajira Department.

The Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta is home to a number of ecoregions, which vary with elevation. The Guajira-Barranquilla xeric scrub region lies near the Caribbean seacoast to the north of the range. The Sinú Valley dry forests cover the range's lower slopes, up to an elevation of 500 meters.

The Santa Marta montane forests lie above 500-800 meters elevation. The montane forests are separated from other moist forests by the lower-elevation dry forests and xeric shrublands, and have large numbers of endemic species. The montane forests ecoregion has several distinct plant communities, distinguished by altitude and rainfall; moist lowland forests cover the windward northern and western flanks of the range between 500 and 900 meters elevation, and the drier eastern and southern flanks from 800 to 1000 meters elevation. Above 900 meters elevation is a transitional forest zone of smaller trees and palms. Cloud forests occur above 1000 meters elevation; the Sub-Andean forests from 1000-1150 to 2500 meters elevation form a canopy 25-35 meters tall, while the higher-elevation Andean forests, between 2500 and 3300 meters elevation, grow to 15-20 meters in height.

The Santa Marta Páramo, a high altitude belt of montane grasslands and shrublands interspersed with marshes and acid bogs, occupies the zone between 3300 and 4500-5000 meters. The Santa Marta Páramo is the northernmost enclave of Páramo in South America, which occur along the Andes belt. Above 4500-5000 meters lies the permanent snow cap.

This site will serve as a benchmark in a network of tall, equatorial mountains. Scientific study focuses on the effects of increased CO2 due to climate change on vegetation at high altitudes. A prior study demonstrated direct evidence of positive vegetation change due to increased photosynthesis from changes in CO2 at two sites. A fuller network is needed to determine whether similar changes are taking place in other areas and increase understanding of this effect.
Cerro Kamuk
Costa Rica
Cerro Kamuk is a mountain in the core of the foothills and mountains of La Amistad International Park, in the Cordillera de Talamanca, between the mountain ranges of northern Panama and south-eastern Costa Rica. Kamuk peak rises to 3,549 meters above sea level. The diversity of species of this area is unequaled in any other reserve of equivalent size in the world. The area protected comprises four national parks clustered together that become La Amistad Biosphere Reserve. UNESCO declared it a natural World Heritage Site since 1983 and is part of the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor, UNESCO's project shared by eight Central American countries (Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras, Belize, Guatemala and South of Mexico) to help protect the remaining pristine mountain forest and wildlife of Central America. The images should capture the transition between heavy forests to scrub to the bare earth above the tree line.

This site will serve as a benchmark in a network of tall, equatorial mountains. Scientific study focuses on the effects of increased CO2 due to climate change on vegetation at high altitudes. A prior study demonstrated direct evidence of positive vegetation change due to increased photosynthesis from changes in CO2 at two sites. A fuller network is needed to determine whether similar changes are taking place in other areas and increase understanding of this effect.
Chimborazo
Ecuador
The inactive stratovolcano Chimborazo is Ecuador's highest summit. Its last eruption is thought to have occurred during the first millennium AD. Its summit is generally regarded as the spot on the surface farthest from the center of the Earth, at a distance of 6,384.4 kilometers (3,967.1 miles). The top of Chimborazo is completely covered by glaciers, with some north-eastern glacier arms flowing down to 4,600 meters. Its glacier is the source of water for the population of the Bolivar and Chimborazo provinces of Ecuador. Chimborazo glacier's ice mass has decreased over the past decades due to the combined influences of global warming, ash covers from recent volcanic activity of Tungurahua, and the El Niño phenomenon.

The images should capture the transition between heavy forests to scrub to the bare earth above the tree line.

This site will serve as a benchmark in a network of tall, equatorial mountains. Scientific study focuses on the effects of increased CO2 due to climate change on vegetation at high altitudes. A prior study demonstrated direct evidence of positive vegetation change due to increased photosynthesis from changes in CO2 at two sites. A fuller network is needed to determine whether similar changes are taking place in other areas and increase understanding of this effect.
Ruwenzori Mountains
Democratic Republic of the Congo
The Rwenzori Mountains, a mountain range rising above dry plains located just above the equator. The Rwenzori Mountains are higher than the Alps and are ice-capped. The range includes Mount Stanley. Margherita Peak, one of Mount Stanley's twin summits, is Africa's third highest peak with a height of 5,109 meters (16,762 feet). Rwenzori Mountains National Park in southwestern Uganda on the east side of the western (Albertine) African rift valley lies along Uganda's border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and borders the DRC's Virunga National Park. Both parks are UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

The range has many species that are endemic to the Albertine Rift system, and there are several endangered species. It has a high diversity of plants and trees. The range is noted for its botany. There are five distinct vegetation zones, which change according to changes in altitude. The range has 89 species of birds, 15 species of butterfly, and four primate species.

This site will serve as a benchmark in a network of tall, equatorial mountains. Scientific study focuses on the effects of increased CO2 due to climate change on vegetation at high altitudes. A prior study demonstrated direct evidence of positive vegetation change due to increased photosynthesis from changes in CO2 at two sites. A fuller network is needed to determine whether similar changes are taking place in other areas and increase understanding of this effect.
Mt Kerinci
Indonesia
Mount Kerinci (also spelled Kerintji, among several other ways, and referred to as Gunung Kerinci, Gadang, Berapi Kurinci, Kerinchi, Korinci, or Peak of Indrapura as well) is an active volcano. It is the highest volcano in Indonesia, and the highest peak in Sumatra. It is surrounded by the lush forest of Kerinci Seblat National Park, home to the endangered species of sumatran tiger and sumatran rhinoceros.

This site will serve as a benchmark in a network of tall, equatorial mountains. Scientific study focuses on the effects of increased CO2 due to climate change on vegetation at high altitudes. A prior study demonstrated direct evidence of positive vegetation change due to increased photosynthesis from changes in CO2 at two sites. A fuller network is needed to determine whether similar changes are taking place in other areas and increase understanding of this effect.
Mt Puncak Jaya
Indonesia
Puncak Jaya is the highest mountain in Indonesia, the highest on the island of New Guinea. It is also the highest point between the Himalayas and the Andes and the highest island peak in the world. The montane altitudinal zone comprises the Kemum Land System, which consists of steep-sided deeply dissected mountain ridges. This altitudinal zone is subdivided into lower montane subzone, mid-montane subzone and upper montane subzone. The lower montane subzone (600-1,500 meters) includes the foothills and lower montane slopes. The forest is very distinct from the surrounding zones. It differs from the alluvial forests in being lower and more closed. These forests form the most floristically rich zones of New Guinea and contain more than 80 genera and 1,200 species of trees. The vegetation types of the mid-montane subzone are mixed mid-montane forest, Castanopsis forest, Nothofagus forest, coniferous forest, mid-montane swamp forest, mid-montane sedge-grass swamp, mid-montane Phragmites grass swamps, mid-montane Miscanthus grassland and succession on abandoned gardens. The mid-montane forest in this altitude is referred to as cloud or mossy forest. The subalpine zone occurs from 3,200 meters to 4,170 meters. All alpine zones are located above 4,170 meters and consist of alpine peaks with bare rocks and residual ice caps. The lower subalpine forest is floristically poor. The forest in this zone has a closed canopy, which reaches to 10-meter height, with emergents up to 15 meters. Rapanea sp., Dacrycarpus compactus and Papuacedrus papuas tend to be dominant species. Near the forest limit, Ericaceae and Epacridacaeae dominate the forest. The alpine zone lies between 4,170 meters and 4,585 meters. The alpine vegetation includes all communities growing above the tall shrub limits. These are grassland, heath and tundra. The dominant grasses at 4,200 meters are Agrostis reinwardtii, Deyeuxia brassi, Anthoxantium angustum, Monostachya oreoboloides and Poa callosa. The ground is covered by bryophytes and liches and scattered scrubs are common. The images should capture the transition between heavy forests to scrub to the bare earth above the tree line.

This site will serve as a benchmark in a network of tall, equatorial mountains. Scientific study focuses on the effects of increased CO2 due to climate change on vegetation at high altitudes. A prior study demonstrated direct evidence of positive vegetation change due to increased photosynthesis from changes in CO2 at two sites. A fuller network is needed to determine whether similar changes are taking place in other areas and increase understanding of this effect.
Mt Kenya
Kenya
Mt Kinabalu
Malaysia
Mount Kinabalu is a prominent mountain in Southeast Asia. It is located in Kinabalu National Park (a World Heritage Site) in the east Malaysian state of Sabah, which is on the island of Borneo in the tropics. It is the fourth tallest mountain in the Malay Archipelago after Indonesian Papua's Puncak Jaya, Puncak Trikora and Puncak Mandala.

Mount Kinabalu is well-known worldwide for its tremendous botanical and biological species biodiversity, with high levels of endemism (i.e. species which are found only within Kinabalu Park and are not found anywhere else in the world). For example, it has one of the world's richest orchid flora with over 800 species, and it also has over 600 species of ferns (more than the whole of Africa's 500 species) of which 50 are found nowhere else. It is the richest place in the world for the Nepenthes insectivorous pitcher plants (five of the thirteen are found nowhere else on earth).

A recent botanical survey of the mountain estimated 5,000 to 6,000 plant species (excluding mosses and liverworts but including ferns), which is more than all of Europe and North America (excluding tropical regions of Mexico) combined. It is therefore one of the world's most important biological sites.

Its incredible biodiversity in plant life is due to a combination of several unique factors: its setting in one of the richest plant regions of the world (the tropical biogeographical region known as western Malesia which comprises the island of Sumatra, the Malay Peninsula, and the island of Borneo), the fact that the mountain covers a wide climatic range from near sea level to freezing ground conditions near the summit, the jagged terrain and diversity of rocks and soils, the high levels of rainfall (averaging about 2700 mm a year at park HQ), and the climatic instability caused by periods of glaciation and catastrophic droughts which result in evolution and speciation. This diversity is greatest in the lowland regions (consisting of lowland dipterocarp forests, so called because the tree family Dipterocarpaceae are dominant). However, most of Kinabalu's endemic species are found in the mountain forests, particularly on ultramafic soils which are low in phosphates and high in iron and metals poisonous to many plants. This high toxic content gave rise to the development of distinctive plant species found nowhere else.

This site will serve as a benchmark in a network of tall, equatorial mountains. Scientific study focuses on the effects of increased CO2 due to climate change on vegetation at high altitudes. A prior study demonstrated direct evidence of positive vegetation change due to increased photosynthesis from changes in CO2 at two sites. A fuller network is needed to determine whether similar changes are taking place in other areas and increase understanding of this effect.
Colima
Mexico
Mt Giluwe
Papua New Guinea
Mount Giluwe is the second highest mountain in Papua New Guinea at 4,368 meters (14,331 feet) with Mount Wilhelm being the highest. It is located in the Southern Highlands province and is an old shield volcano with vast alpine grasslands. Ancient volcanic plugs form its two summits, with the central peak the highest and an east peak about 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) away at 4,300 meters (14,108 feet). Giluwe has the distinction of being the highest volcano on the Australian continent, and is thus one of the Volcanic Seven Summits.

The slopes of Mt. Giluwe exhibit a number of different vegetation zones, also known as biomes. Between 2500 meters (8,200 feet) and 2800 meters (9,200 feet) is the lower montane rainforest dominated by Nothofagus and Elaeocarpus with large Pandanus including the climbing Freycinetia, climbing bamboo, many gingers, orchids, ferns, herbs and shrubs including Begonia. Avian fauna include the endemic dwarf cassowary. Above this is the upper montane rainforest or moss forest, with stunted moss-shrouded trees such as Quintinia and conifers including Papuacedrus and Podocarpus. The ground is covered in ferns of all types including Blechnum, filmy ferns and the world's largest moss (Dawsonia superba) up to 55 centimeters (22 inches) tall. Rhododendrons grow as epiphytes in the trees as do specialised cloud forest orchids. This forest type is perpetually shrouded in cloud.

At 3200 meters (10,500 feet), the moss forest opens into subalpine grassland. This transition marks the extent of glaciation during the last glacial maximum. The grassland is inhabited by towering endemic tree ferns. Tiny wildflowers grow amongst the tussock grasses including Veronica, Viola and Gaultheria. Streams flow in beds once scoured by glaciers, and wet bogs contain frog species found nowhere else on earth. This is also the domain of the endemic woolly ground cuscus, a species of possum. Patches of relict subalpine rainforest cling to the sheltered areas where frost is lessened. Scarlet Rhododendrons and Dimorphanthera abound in the gnarled dwarf forest and white beard lichens hang in the branches. Above 3400 meters (11,200 feet) on the vast alpine plateau, creeping Astelia, cushion plants and mosses can be found near the numerous tarns, along with alpine blueberries (Vaccinium) and asters in rockier areas.

This site will serve as a benchmark in a network of tall, equatorial mountains. Scientific study focuses on the effects of increased CO2 due to climate change on vegetation at high altitudes. A prior study demonstrated direct evidence of positive vegetation change due to increased photosynthesis from changes in CO2 at two sites. A fuller network is needed to determine whether similar changes are taking place in other areas and increase understanding of this effect.
Mt Hagen
Papua New Guinea
Mount Hagen is the second highest volcano in Papua New Guinea ranking behind only its neighbor Mount Giluwe which is roughly 35 kilometers (22 miles) to the southwest. It is located on the border between the Western Highlands and Enga Provinces, about 24 kilometers (15 miles) northwest of the city of Mount Hagen which is named after it. Mount Hagen is an old stratovolcano, which has been heavily eroded during several Pleistocene glaciations. The maximum extent of the glaciers on Hagen is less than half that on much higher Mount Giluwe, covering an area of up to 50 square kilometers (20 square miles) and extending down below 3,400 meters (11,000 feet). The images should capture the transition between heavy forests to scrub to the bare earth above the tree line.

This site will serve as a benchmark in a network of tall, equatorial mountains. Scientific study focuses on the effects of increased CO2 due to climate change on vegetation at high altitudes. A prior study demonstrated direct evidence of positive vegetation change due to increased photosynthesis from changes in CO2 at two sites. A fuller network is needed to determine whether similar changes are taking place in other areas and increase understanding of this effect.
Mt Wilhelm
Papua New Guinea
Mount Wilhelm is the highest mountain in Papua New Guinea at 4,509 meters (14,790 feet). It is part of the Bismarck Range and the peak is the point where three provinces intersect, Simbu, Western Highlands and Madang. The peak is also known as Enduwa Kombuglu in the local Kuman language, a Papuan language. The mountain is on the island of New Guinea, which incorporates Papua New Guinea and the Indonesian province of Papua.

The images should capture the transition between heavy forests to scrub t the bare earth above the tree line.

This site will serve as a benchmark in a network of tall, equatorial mountains. Scientific study focuses on the effects of increased CO2 due to climate change on vegetation at high altitudes. A prior study demonstrated direct evidence of positive vegetation change due to increased photosynthesis from changes in CO2 at two sites. A fuller network is needed to determine whether similar changes are taking place in other areas and increase understanding of this effect.
Sudan Transect
The Sudan Transect is a North-South transect that bisects the western part of the country of Sudan. The transect is comprised of ten target sites located in the Darfur Province. Counts of trees were used in existing aerial/satellite photography from 1943-1994 along this transect, selecting undisturbed sites to ascertain the impacts of climate change (separate from human disturbances such as fire-wood cutting) on driving the desertification process in this region. In a report to the United Nations, the desert was shown to be moving southward at a rate of 5.5 km/year in this region. Since that time, it has been of interest to global change scientists as an indication of desertification of the Sahel, although reports are mixed. Continued monitoring of these sites will provide an ongoing study of the rate of desertification in the Sahel.
Kilimanjaro
Tanzania
Kilimanjaro, the highest peak in Africa (5895 meter above sea level), is a dormant stratovolcano located in northern Tanzania to the east of Lake Victoria. It contains several ecosystems from tropical rainforest at its base to a series of ice fields at and near its summit. Records of climatic variation have been retrieved from three of the ice fields, and the oldest of these extends back 10,000 years. The region of eastern Africa in which Kilimanjaro is located experiences two rainy seasons, in March-May and October-November. The climate is monsoon, and precipitation originates from the Indian Ocean.

Ground surveys conducted since 1912 have determined that the ice fields in the Kilimanjaro crater have been undergoing rapid retreat due to recent warming trends. Since 1912, the total area of the ice fields has decreased 82% and at the present pace all the ice could disappear from the mountain by 2015 to 2020. From February of 2000 to February of 2001, the Northern Ice Field retreated 80 cm and lost 109 cm in thickness. Because the "snows of Kilimanjaro" are a lucrative tourist attraction, the loss of this ice could significantly impact the economy of Tanzania, . The surface warming trends are also causing shifts in the ecosystems on the mountain's slopes where agricultural activities are located.

The series of ice fields in the crater of Kilimanjaro vary in size, the largest being the Northern Ice Field (50m thick). The Southern Ice Field (18-22m thick) is also intact, but the Eastern Ice Field is composed of remnants, some hardly larger than a person. The Furtwangler Glacier in the center of the crater, which is 9.5 meters thick, is already water saturated. The total combined area of all the remaining ice in the crater is 2.2 square km.

Kilimanjaro is truly unique in that it is the only equatorial mountain in Africa from where a viable ice core record of climate conditions can be obtained. Because of the environmental and societal importance of the ice fields at this site, close monitoring could yield valuable information for climatologists, glaciologists, and the people of Tanzania.
Colonia Glacier and Lago Cachet Dos
Chile
Lago Cachet Dos is a glacier-dammed lake in southern Chile. Starting in 2008, the lake has experienced glacial lake outburst floods (GLOFs) during which the entire pool of water (~200 million m3) drains from the lake and flows SSE under the Colonia glacier in less than 24 hours. These catastrophic events cause massive erosion of lake bed deposits and consequent enlargement of the lake. Features that need to be monitored include stream channels forming in the lakebed, different types of sedimentary deposits, locations of inundated trees and other sites where age-date samples are collected, bathymetry of the lake bed, elevation of the lake surface, aerial extent of the Colonia glacier, individual crevasses and rock debris that can be repeatedly identified and located on the Colonia glacier surface, and topography of the Colonia glacier surface.
Himalaya Glaciers  - Glacier 102 (Afghanistan)  - Glacier 331 (Afghanistan)  - Zone 1 Group (Afghanistan)  - Nainuogeru (China)  - Ronguch (China)  - Urumqihe S No1 (China)  - Yayou (China)  - Chhota Shigri (India)  - Dunagiri (India)  - Ts Tuyuksuyskiy (Kazakhstan)  - Akshiirak Glacier Group (Kyrgyzstan)  - Raigorodskiy (Kyrgyzstan)  - Thulagi (Nepal)  - Toshain Rupal (Pakistan)  - Mushketov (Tajikistan)  - Zeravshanskiy (Tajikistan)
The Himalayan range contains approximately 15,000 glaciers. Because of this, a sampling strategy is needed to survey them. The distribution of these fiducial sites allows MEDEA to systematically survey glaciers from each of the 4 climatic zones in the region. The dynamics of the glaciers are partially controlled by their location in these climatic zones. By sampling glaciers across these zones, a balanced sampling of glaciers can be achieved.

All of these sites are high elevation alpine glaciers in the Himalaya mountain region. These sites together represent an effort to survey the Himalayan region glaciers. In the world's mountains, seasonal snow and glaciers comprise a major component of water resources for humans and ecosystems in the mountains themselves and the lowlands below them. Worldwide, about 20 percent of Earth's population derives their water resources from snow and ice. Snow distribution, snowmelt, rain on snow, and associated hydrologic processes vary with terrain, climate, and vegetation structure. Our knowledge of how this heterogeneity affects hydrologic response is limited to a few small mountain catchments. In the larger basins, data are sparse, current measurement and modeling strategies perform poorly, and our understanding is conceptual. To address effective and efficient management of future water resources to meet societal and ecosystem needs, we must be able to monitor seasonal snow and glaciers across whole mountain ranges. The need for knowledge about glaciers is particularly acute in the mountain ranges of High Asia - Pamir, Tien Shan, Hindu Kush, Karakoram, Central Himalaya, and Eastern Himalaya. Variable retreat rates, debris cover, and the dearth of field measurements make it difficult to develop a coherent picture of regional trends and variability. In the discussions of the Himalayan glaciers, the role of seasonal snow is some-times lost. How much of the dry-season flow in the Indus, Ganges, and Brahmaputra derives from glacier melt is an open question, but is probably in the range of 10-20 percent. In other mountain ranges, for example the western U.S., seasonal snow is the dominant source of river flow, with summer rain next and glaciers last.
Eastern Himalayan Mountains
The Himalayan Mountain Snow Study is located in the Eastern Himalayan mountain range. Seasonal snow and glaciers comprise a major component of water resources for humans and the ecosystems in the mountains themselves and the lowlands below them. Snow distributions, snowmelt, rain on snow, and associated hydrologic processes vary with terrain, climate, and vegetation structure. Research at this site is conducted to understand how this heterogeneity affects hydrologic response.
Tram Chim National Park
Vietnam
Tram Chim National Park, the target area of this GFP site in Vietnam, is the largest wetland national park in the Mekong River Basin of Southeast Asia. This area received attention from the International Crane Foundation (ICF) after learning about the rediscovery of Eastern Sarus Cranes at Tram Chim in 1986 during an international meeting sponsored by the ICF in China in 1987. Prior to this finding, the Eastern Sarus Crane was considered one of the many casualties of the Vietnam War. This area is also the site of the largest representative (remnant) of the Plain of Reeds (Dong Thap Muoi). The original plain was covered in dense vegetation with small natural streams, but most of these natural areas were converted to rice production. Tram Chim was originally nominated as a site for restoring the Plain of Reeds ecosystem by zoning 5,000 ha as a reserve; by 1999 it was decreed a National Park. It was also designated a Wetland of International Importance through the Ramsar Convention, an international treaty for the conservation and wise use of wetlands. Ecotones at Tram Chim are related to subtle differences in elevation that determine water permanence. The highest beach ridges support upland vegetation whereas the medium to high elevation supports Panicum dominated vegetation communities. Medium elevations host Tram (the rear mangrove) and grasslands dominated by Eleocharis spp. and Oryza rupifugon. The lowest areas are represented by old stream beds dominated by Lotus. Because these zones are determined by elevation of the base soil, they also determine the water permanence. After water management began at Tram Chim, water permanence changed along with concomitant changes in ecotones. Understanding the changes in ecotones through periods of high water management as well as periods where drawdowns were conducted will greatly aid management actions and planning. Research will be conducted to describe broad vegetation change in the Park from 1989 to the present and into the future.