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Climate variability and change

Climate is a critical driver of grassland structure and function. Grasslands occur in areas that are prone to occasional drought and are characterized by highly variable patterns of rainfall, both between (inter-annually) and within (intra-annually) years. North American grasslands were formed by climate changes originating during the Miocene-Pliocene transition, and their present day distributions depend on regional temperature and precipitation gradients, as well as periodic extremes (e.g., droughts).

Harper, C.W., J.M. Blair, P.A. Fay, A.K. Knapp, and J.D. Carlisle. 2005. Increased rainfall variability and reduced rainfall amount decreases soil CO2 flux in a grassland ecosystem. Global Change Biology 11:322-344.
Heisler-White, J.L., J.M. Blair, E.F. Kelly, K. Harmoney, and A.K. Knapp. 2009. Contingent productivity responses to more extreme rainfall regimes across a grassland biome. Global Change Biology 15:2894-2904.
Knapp, A.K., P.A. Fay, J.M. Blair, S.L. Collins, M.D. Smith, J.D. Carlisle, C.W. Harper, B.T. Danner, M.S. Lett, and J.K. McCarron. 2002. Rainfall variability, carbon cycling and plant species diversity in a mesic grassland. Science 298:2202-2205.
La Pierre, K.J., S.H. Yuan, C.C. Chang, M.L. Avolio, L.M. Hallett, T. Schreck, and M.D. Smith. 2011. Explaining temporal variation in above-ground productivity in a mesic grassland: the role of climate and flowering. Journal of Ecology 99:1250-1262.
Dr. John Blair
Rainfall Manipulation Plots (RaMPs) experiment: Konza Prairie LTER scientists are addressing the consequences of climate change using a unique experimental facility (the Rainfall Manipulation Plots, RaMPs) that allows them altered rainfall patterns and increase temperatures over replicated plots of native tallgrass prairie. Understanding the interactive effects of more extreme rainfall patterns and warmer temperatures will be critical for the sustainability of grassland resources and ecosystem services under future climates. 7/2005.
John Blair



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