Fellow Julie Wolf
Urban Ecology Fellow Julie Wolf places temperature loggers.
Studying Climate Change

Climate change will affect our parks in many different ways, most of which are not yet well understood. As land stewards, we have the responsibility to plan for these changes as best we can so that the complex mix of natural and cultural features is preserved for future generations.

One way to plan for the future is to engage in scientific studies that examine the vulnerability of our resources to the effects of a changing climate. The Center for Urban Ecology supports a variety of studies in NCR parks in collaboration with universities and federal partners.

These studies not only help us to better understand how climate change affects our parks, but they also allow our parks to serve as a valuable resource for drawing broader conclusions about our future.

Current and Completed Studies

 Migratory warbler    Potential effects of climate change on birds of the Mid-Atlantic

    T.S. Sillett, Research Wildlife Biologist, Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, National Zoological Park

This study is a cooperative project between the National Capital Region and the Smithsonian Institution, National Zoological Park to examine the potential effects of climate change on birds of the Mid-Atlantic. It will provide the first bird vulnerability assessments in NCR parks, and will begin in early winter 2011.

Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi    The effects of future global change on arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi and soil carbon

    J. Wolf, Urban Ecology Fellow, University of Maryland

Global temperatures and CO2 levels are projected to increase. This study examines the effects of these changes on carbon in the soil and on the relationship between plant roots and beneficial fungi. This study uses the soils of historic golf courses and NCR parks as a substitute for expected future conditions.

Tidal Marsh    The possible effects of sea level rise on park resources

    A. Elmore, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, and associates

Climate change is producing higher global sea levels, which will translate to higher water levels in the tidal sections of the Anacostia and Potomac Rivers. This study helps to identify which and how park resources likely be affected by these changes.


Giselle Mora-Bourgeois
Science Education Coordinator
National Park Service
Center for Urban Ecology
4598 MacArthur Blvd NW
Washington, DC 20007

(202) 342-1443 x220