2019 Seed Grant Awards

Once and future forests: Exploring divergent responses of Douglas-fir and limber pine to recent climate change  Dr. Matthew P. Dannenberg, Department of Geographical and Sustainable Systems, University of Iowa

Forests provide numerous ecosystem services, but how different forest ecosystems will respond to a changing climate remains one of the great unsolved mysteries of global change ecology, with important consequences for our future forest resources. To address this, I will collect new tree-ring data in nested, fixed-radius plots of mixed conifer forests in the central Rocky Mountains, where large changes in temperature, snowpack, and vapor pressure deficit have occurred. I will specifically target two long-lived, iconic, and regionally-important tree species: Douglas-fir and limber pine. Using these tree-ring data, in combination with historical climate data, I will quantify changes in tree growth over the past century and the dominant
climatic drivers of growth across these sites. This seed research will lay the groundwork for future funding aimed at developing a mechanistic understanding of how and why tree species respond differently to climate change across a range of spatial and temporal scales. - $30,000

Extreme Heat Adaptation Strategies for Buildings and Neighborhoods in the Upper Midwest Using Novel Urban Energy Modeling Techniques  Dr. Ulrike Passe, Department of Architecture, Iowa State University

This project integrates a set of urban and suburban adaptation scenarios into a hybrid data-physics model developed by Passe et al. (2019) that will support community preparedness for extreme heat events. By mid-century (2036–2065), one year out of 10 in the Midwest region of the United States is projected to have a 5-day period that is 13°F warmer than a comparable earlier period (1976–2005). High humidity due point days are also increasing (Melillo et al., 2014). The hybrid data-physics model assimilates weather, building, and near-building microclimate data integrated with a building energy simulator to develop preliminary adaptation strategies for building interior conditions during real-time events applicable to the urban Midwest. The proposed project refines this model and adds initial adaptation scenarios that will later be co-designed with the team’s community partners to acknowledge the needs and challenges of low-income populations who are especially vulnerable during extreme heat events.- $29,999

Growing the urban forest: Uncovering relationships that shape urban forests and understories in agricultural cities  Dr. Heather Sander, Department of Geographical and Sustainable Systems, University of Iowa and Dr. Stephen Hendrix, Department of Biology, University of Iowa

Urban forests and their understories (hereafter “urban forests”) enhance ecological functioning, environmental quality, and species habitat, thereby providing ecosystem services to urban humans. These forests thus represent a resource for supporting objectives related to human well-being and urban ecological functioning and quality. Managing urban forests to support these objectives requires an understanding of their components, interactions among them, and their development. Many of the drivers of urban forest development and interactions among them remain underexplored, particularly with respect to differential effects on tree, shrub, and herbaceous layers and the services they provide. The proposed study will identify relationships between contemporary forest structure and past and present biophysical, socioeconomic and demographic attributes in cities embedded in agricultural landscapes. By identifying important factors and time periods for urban forest formation, our results will support decision-making by households, urban foresters, and policy makers in guiding the development of multifunctional urban forests. - $29,997

Development of a proxy record of El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) from Colombian Stalagmites during the last 6,000 years  Dr. Alan D. Wanamaker & Juan Carlos Romero Gelvez, Department of Geological and Atmospheric Sciences, Iowa State University

Extreme weather can adversely impact crop health and production. Such impacts cause economical and food chain stresses that are difficult to predict and/or manage. With increasing stresses associated with global warming, droughts and flood events are becoming more prevalent and severe in the upper Midwest region. Prediciting future growing conditions is made even more challenging when internal modes of climate interact with ongoing climate change. One of the largest influences on global weather conditions is the El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO), which is a semi-periodic internal mode of climate with global impacts. However,despite its importance in natural and manipulated systems, scientific consensus regarding its behavior (frequency and magnitude) and its potential impacts over recent millennia is lacking. Without a broad understanding of ENSO’s variability over past centuries to millennia, the forecast of its activity, and hence its impacts, in the future is highly problematic. - $29,920


Friday, March 1, 2019