During the 20th century the northeastern U.S.A. has undergone an annual temperature increase of 1 degrees C, the combined effect of winter warming and an increase in daily summer minimum temperatures. A significant cooling of spring through autumn in maximum air temperatures is also evident since 1950. Therefore, the primary objective of this study is to document these climate trends and variability over the last century. A secondary objective is to provide a preliminary analysis of how these changes may have impacted hydrologic and ecosystem processes. Specifically, with respect to ecosystem processes, we examine how the cooling of daytime maximum temperatures may have impacted plant respiration and biomass accumulation. The study site is the Black Rock Forest, an experimental forest located in Hudson Highlands of New York that has been maintained as a conservation area over the last 100 years. For the region centered about the forest, there exists a climate/weather record and an extensively maintained biomass record that extends continuously from the early part of the 20th century through present. With such an extensive physical and biological record to draw from, this forest provides a microcosm for studying how changes in 20th century local and regional climate may have impacted ecosystem processes such as species adaptation, biomass growth, and 20th century carbon sequestration. In a subsequent paper we will more extensively explore the relationship between this record of changing climate and eco-hydrological processes.
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