Because of its crucial role in driving or regulating many biological and physical processes at the landscape scale, climate has been identified as a vital sign for all Southern Plains Network (SOPN) parks. Rainfall and temperature are the primary factors that limit an ecosystem's structure and function. Secondary limiting factors include long-term climate patterns: the length and intensity of weather events, seasons in which they occur, and amount of variability between and among years. Together, these dynamics greatly influence the types of plant species that occur, and where; the ways in which nutrients are cycled; and the relationships between soil, plants, and water availability. They can also affect the susceptibility of an ecosystem to disturbance.

Long-term Monitoring

The overarching goal of SOPN climate monitoring is to compile and present climate data in a form that helps us to understand the reasons for trends seen in other network vital signs monitoring efforts. The SOPN compiles climate data from seven regional climate monitoring programs, including data from 6 weather stations in and SOPN parks. An additional 229 stations near the parks have also been identified. Parks are then provided with monthly and annual summaries of variables such as air temperature, precipitation, wind speed and direction, solar radiation, fuel temperature, and moisture.

Network Park Units Where Monitoring Occurs

Climate monitoring is done at all parks within the Southern Plains Network.

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    Last updated: August 9, 2018