Modelling aquatic-­‐ terrestrial linkages and vegetation climate interactions

2012 to 2015

This project is developing a multi-scale modeling effort linking climate, hydrology, vegetation, geomorphology, and aquatic habitat. The research is applicable to catchments in Montana and beyond and is initially being applied to the Bitterroot River basin. First, downscaling of Global Circulation Models has been used to develop models of present and future (2046–2056) climate at high (4 km) resolution for western Montana (including but not restricted to the Bitterroot). The regional climate models have then been used to drive application of a watershed-scale, physics-based ecohydrological model, ECH2O, to the Bitterroot basin. We have modeled ecohydrology of the Bitterroot basin at daily time steps in a 250-m resolution grid, calibrated against measured streamflow and snow water equivalent, as well as satellite-derived snow covered distribution, gross primary production, evapotranspiration, leaf area index, and land-surface temperature. Soil moisture, soil temperature, runoff, and other ecohydrologic variables were simulated, and the resulting model output has been stratified into elevation bands. This work is important because it uses a state-of-the-art modeling approach to develop rigorous and spatially explicit predictions of watershed-scale ecohydrologic vulnerability to climate change, as well as finer-scale insights into hillslope hydrology, vegetation dynamics, and streamflow than are currently available, all of which will provide a physically sound and generalizable basis for understanding ecosystem impacts of climate change.

IoE Graduate Student(s): 


MSU IoE Office

Montana State University
605 Leon Johnson Hall
Bozeman, MT 59717
(406) 994-2374
MSU Director: Cathy Whitlock

UM IoE Office

The Universityi of Montana

The University of Montana
Davidson Honors College
Missoula, MT 59812
(406) 243-6058
UM Director: Maury Valett


Montana University System

Montana University System

Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education
2500 Broadway Street
Helena, MT 59620