Ongoing and Past Research

Posted below are summaries of ongoing and past research studies completed within the park.

Alpine Vascular Plant Biodiversity at Spray Park, Mount Rainier National Park - Sydne Record
Long-term study to assess vegetation position changes due to climate change.

Assessing Potential Linkages Between Geohydrological Context and Macroinvertebrate Communities and Zooplankton at Habitat and Valley Scales for Ecological Monitoring - Anne Weekes & Joshua Kubo
Examination of alpine aquatic ecosystems to better understand the role of post-glacier landforms in the area's hydrology.

Cascade Butterfly Project - Regina Rochfort
Program inventories and monitors butterflies in six protected areas of the Cascade Mountains in Washington and British Columbia to see how they are affected by climate change .

Climate Monitoring in Mount Rainier National Park - Rebecca Lofgren & Barbara Samora
An ongoing project to monitor the weather in the park to understand variations in other park resources such as plants and glaciers. Data is collected primarily through seven weather stations.

Climatic and Human Influences on the Fire and Vegetation History of Subalpine Meadows-Mount Rainier National Park - Megan Walsh
The study examines evidence of early plant species and fire events found in lake cores. The sediments of park lakes preserve the charcoal and pollen from both fires and plants going back almost 10,000 years.

Community Responses to Atmospheric Nitrogen Deposition in Subalpine Ecosystems at Mount Rainier National Park - Justin Poinsatte
Through computer models and field experimentation, this study looks at the impacts of increasing amounts of atmospheric nitrogen being deposited on alpine plants. While alpine environments can act as reservoirs for small amounts of nitrogen, too much nitrogen could negatively affect plants, soils and watersheds. (updated version, 2014)

Conservation Status of the Cascade Red Fox - Jocelyn Akins
Found only in the Cascade Mountains of Washington, the Cascade Red Fox is well adapted to its cold, mountain habitat which may be impacted by climate change and other factors. This project studies the population trends of the Cascade red fox and prospects of long-term survival.

Debris Flow Processes on Mount Rainier - Nicholas Legg
A study of the origin of debris flows and the roles that glacier retreat and climate change play in the frequency of debris flows.

Dixid Midges of Mount Rainier National Park - John Moulton
Status and trends of dixid midges sampled from aquatic habitats as part of a systematic treatise of dixid midges of the Nearctic.

Ecology of Introduced Prickly Sculpin in Lake George and Other Mountain Lakes of the Upper Nisqually River Basin - Roger Tabor
This study documents the continuing presence of introduced prickly sculpin in mountain lakes of the Upper Nisqually. In addition, the study also collects basic ecological information on sculpin populations such as diet and age and examines the behavior of mountain populations compared to native lowland ones.

Forecasting the Future of Pacific Northwestern Forests - Janneke Hille Ris Lambers
Part of a study to determine how individual tree species deal with climate change depending on the species' performance in tree growth, seed production and seedling germination in different microclimates in order to build a model to project future forest changes. (updated version, 2014)

Glacier Monitoring in the National Parks of Washington State: A Virtual Field experience - Frank D. Granshaw
Virtual reality is being investigated as a means of providing the average visitor and the public with the experience of glaciers and glacier research.

Glacier Studies at Mount Rainier National Park - Claire Todd et al.
Glacier studies by undergraduate students focused on meltwater analyses for hydrothermal influence, sediment load and fecal coliform.

Inventory of Geothermal Resources in Washington State - Jeff Bowman
As part of a state-wide study of geothermal resources, samples were taken from thermal and mineral springs (minus the summit fumeroles). Analysis of the samples will contribute to a better understanding of the regional geothermal system.

Landscape Response to Climate Change and its Role in Infrastructure Protection and Management at Mount Rainier National Park - Scott Beason, Paul Kennard, Laura Walkup, & Tim Abbe
Study looks at the ongoing changes of glaciers and major rivers of Mount Rainier in order to understand the consequences for historic infrastructure.

Lilies at the Limit: Pollination Services and the Distribution of Erythronium montanum - Elinore Theobald & Janneke Hille Ris Lambers
This brief is part of an initial study of the effects of climate change on the timing of flowering and insect activity and its effect on plant-pollinator interactions.

Long-term Ecological Monitoring of Mountain Lakes - Barbara Samora & Rebecca Lofgren
An on-going long-term study of the impacts of atmospheric pollution, climate change, non-native species, backcountry visitation, and other factors on park lakes.

Long-term Trends in Mature and Old-growth Forests at Mount Rainier National Park - Robert Pabst
A network of 18 permanent plots in Mount Rainier National Park is being monitored to provide data on long-term trends in mature and old-growth forests.

Measurement of Glacial Meltwater Outflow through Water Analysis for Geohazard Recognition - Laura German
This study found several detectable signals for glacier outburst floods, such as iron content, turbidity, temperature and pH.

Melting the rocky terminus of Emmons Glacier - Peter L. Moore, Leah I. Nelson, & Theresa M Dits
Study using airborne thermal infrared imaging systems to test a method of remotely estimating rock debris thickness and conductivity over large areas of debris-covered glaciers.

Modeling Climate Change Effects on the Hydrology of North Cascades Wetland Ecosystems - Maureen Ryan
Through field research and modeling, this study examines the effects of climate change on mountain wetlands and the fauna, like amphibians, that are dependent on those habitats.

Monitoring Amphibians at Mount Rainier National Park - Rebecca Lofgren, Scott Anderson, & Sarah Lindsay
Summary of the 2016 Citizen Science amphibian surveys in the park, focusing on monitoring abundance of western toad.

Monitoring Federal Lands and Highway Program Revegetation Sites - Russ Haas
Park roadsides are revegetated and monitored after programed and emergency repair projects. Analyses of two plots revealed that revegetation methods yielded better results in 2011 than in 2010.

Phenology and Climate Change - Janneke Hille Ris Lambers
A study on the effect of climate change on the biological life events of subalpine wildflowers, which differ greatly between plant species.

Predicting the Effects of Future Climate Change on the Subalpine and Alpine Meadows of Pacific Northwest Mountains - Kevin Ford & Janneke Lambers
The study looks at how meadows will deal with climate change through modeling and research into seed dispersal rates and distances.

Shallow repeating seismic events under an alpine glacier on Mount Rainier: stick-slip glacier sliding events or volcanic earthquakes? - Kate Allstadt, Steve Malone, David Shean, & Mark Fahnestock
Study to determine whether repeating earthquakes on Mount Rainier were generated by stick-slip sliding at the bed of glaciers, occurring when the glacier is loaded with snow, rather than due to volcanic activity.

Small-Scale Variations in the Melt of a Debris-Covered Glacier: Emmons Glacier, Mount Rainier National Park - Theresa Dits & Dr. Peter Moore
This study looked at how the rock debris covering the Emmons Glacier changed the glacier's reponse to stress factors like climate change.

Soil Organic Carbon Stocks in Mount Rainier National Park - Mark Swanson, Michelle Totman, Nathan Morse, & Toby Rogers
A introduction to a long-term study on the sequestration of carbon within the soil in order to quantify important factors in soil organic carbon distribution.

Songbirds: Indicators of Mercury in Natural Park Ecosystems - E. Adams, A.K. Jackson, & D.C. Evers - Biodiversity Research Institute
This study aims to assess the mercury levels in a variety of insect-eating songbirds throughout three western national parks, and to understand how songbirds can be used as indicators of the health of these ecosystems.

Status and Trends Monitoring for Watershed Health & Salmon Recovery - Glenn Merritt
Part of a statewide monitoring project, this study annually monitors Laughingwater Creek. Study includes in-stream surveys, water quality measurements, and vertebrate and macroinvertebrate sampling.

Testing the Limits: Effects of Climate and Competition on Conifer Distributions at Mount Rainier - Ailene Ettinger
A study of the interaction of climate change and competition in the establishment and growth of three common tree species at Mount Rainier; western hemlock, mountain hemlock and Pacific silver fir.

Thaumaleidae of Mount Rainier National Park - Bradley Sinclair & Kevin Moulton
Summary of part of an on-going study to re-collect specimens previously collected almost 100 years ago. Also samples appropriate micro-habitats to estimate the total diversity of seepage midges at Mount Rainier.

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

55210 238th Avenue East
Ashford, WA 98304


(360) 569-2211

Contact Us