Checking the Range for Signs of Climate Change in the Past, Present, and Future

Checking the Range for Signs of Climate Change in the Past, Present, and Future

Imagine you have access to a machine that can make particles move faster and faster until they approach the speed of light, and essentially travel through time. The machine might look like the Large Hadron Collider—the particle accelerator below ground in Switzerland—but instead of producing teeny, tiny, short-lived, exotic particles no one’s ever seen before, it transports you, a person of ample curiosity, into the future. You disembark your time travel machine, look around, and though you believe you’re in the same geography, things don’t look quite the same. If you began your trip somewhere in the interior American West where familiar grasslands, shrublands, or deserts were found, you have reason to be perplexed. The ecosystems of the future world have changed. What does that future world look like? Scientists in the Grassland, Shrubland, and Desert Ecosystems Science Program (GSD) – a unit of the USDA Forest Service Rocky Mountain Research Station (RMRS) – are not waiting for the future to arrive to have a look—they are working on revealing the story to us now.

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