Effects of Lake Superior on the Vegetation History of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and Northern Wisconsin: A Model-Data Comparison with Implications for the Future

EPA Grant Number: GF9502007
Title: Effects of Lake Superior on the Vegetation History of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and Northern Wisconsin: A Model-Data Comparison with Implications for the Future
Investigators: Cronlund, Sarah
Institution: University of Minnesota
EPA Project Officer: Broadway, Virginia
Project Period: September 1, 1995 through January 1, 2000
Project Amount: $33,604
RFA: STAR Graduate Fellowships (1995) Recipients Lists
Research Category: Academic Fellowships , Ecological Indicators/Assessment/Restoration , Fellowship - Ecology


The objective of this research project is to establish the analytical models necessary to understand how climate change will affect the regional patterns of soil moisture and forest in a portion of the Great Lakes Basin. Using paleoecological methods in conjunction with a meso-scale soil moisture model, the research will analyze the distribution of pollen microfossils to interpret past vegetation patterns for the study region. The Upper Peninsula of Michigan and northern Wisconsin is the area chosen for the study region for two reasons: 1) it includes the entire range of climate gradients affected by Lake Superior, and 2) it has a dense network of existing paleoecological sites which occur on a range of soil substrate types. The research process will be to establish a regional soil moisture model that correlates distribution and abundance of individual tree species with soil moisture and temperature conditions. The model will use soil texture and observed climate variables to calculate maximum, minimum, and mean soil moisture values across the region. The spatial correlation of soil moisture and temperature with distribution and abundance of tree species will be tested using geographical information system technology. In order to establish the distribution of pollen microfossils the existing network of paleo-sites will be augmented. Several long cores will be obtained and analyzed for pollen from areas in the western Upper Peninsula where the existing network of sites is sparse. For example, cores will be obtained from the Porcupine Mountains and Keewenaw Peninsula, where lake-effect snowfall is extensive but no paleoecological sites have been analyzed. The correlation established between modern soil moisture and modern vegetation will be used too interpret past soil moisture conditions across the study region. The ultimate goal will be to run the soil moisture vegetation model with climate parameter inputs based upon General Circulation Models and Regional Climate Model outputs for global warming scenarios in order to obtain predictions for changes in regional vegetation.

Supplemental Keywords:

RFA, Scientific Discipline, Air, Geographic Area, Ecosystem Protection/Environmental Exposure & Risk, Midwest, Applied Math & Statistics, Ecosystem/Assessment/Indicators, Ecosystem Protection, exploratory research environmental biology, Environmental Chemistry, Mathematics, State, climate change, Air Pollution Effects, Ecological Effects - Environmental Exposure & Risk, computing technology, Ecological Risk Assessment, Urban and Regional Planning, Atmosphere, Ecological Indicators, Great Lakes, ecosystem modeling, climate change effects, vegetation patterns, environmental monitoring, regional soil moisture model, ecosystem assessment, paleoecological methods, Upper Peninsula, northern Wisconsin, Porcupine Mountains (Upper Peninsula of Michigan), Wisconsin (WI), Lake Michigan, vegetation history, analytical models, soil moisture vegetation model, Michigan (MI)