Weather and Climate

RainbowWeather and climate are often confused. In this article, we explore how climate and weather are different from and related to each other.

Excerpt from the Southwest Climate Change Network, written by Zack Guido, University of Arizona
Figure 1. As an example of climate, thunderstorms usually occur during the summer months in the southwestern United States, whereas each individual storm represents an example of weather. Photo by Terry Spivey, USDA Forest Service via

Do you trust your local …

Natural Variability and Climate Change

Image:Forest field trip.jpgClimate naturally varies over a variety of different scales. Learn some of the aspects that influence climate variation here.


Excerpt from the Southwest Climate Change Network, written by Zack Guido, University of Arizona
Figure 1. Climate naturally varies on a number of different scales (e.g., temperature, precipitation, geographically). Such changes influence species’ distributions, phenology, and migration patterns in every ecosystem. Photo courtesy of Chris Schnepf, University of Idaho.

The climate varies naturally from one year to the next. Climate …

Climate and Disturbance

Image:Stand-replacing fire.JPGDisturbance regimes for fires, insect and disease outbreaks, and invasive species are altered by changes in climate.


Written by Tom DeGomez, University of Arizona
Figure 1. Changes in climate are forecast to increase the intensity and severity of several forms of disturbance, such as wildfire, which could impact the health and sustainability of many ecosystems. Photo: Chris Schnepf, University of Idaho.

Climate is critical as to whether a species population will expand or contract within its range. Most forests and …

Climate Change Adaptation for Forests

Image:Master forest owners.jpgTo help forests adapt to changes in climate, landowners must consider several aspects of land management.


Adapted from
Millar, Constance I., Nathan L. Stephenson, and Scott L. Stephens, 2008. (Feb. 5, 2008) Climate Change Resource Center. Re-Framing Forest and Resource Management Strategies for a Climate Change Context PDF U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service.


Figure 1. Adapting to climate change requires the cooperation of a variety of landowners, natural resource specialists, and local citizen groups to tackle the many

Biodiversity and Climate Change

Grassland BiodiversityClimate change poses a significant threat to biological diversity in forests. Learn the major changes that are expected.


Adapted from: Manley, P. 2008. Biodiversity and Climate Change. (May 20, 2008). U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Climate Change Resource Center.


Biological diversity is essential to maintaining ecosystem processes and services. Climate change poses a significant threat to biological diversity (Parmesan and Yohe 2003). Before climate change became an acknowledged threat, biological diversity was considered at risk at regional …

Increasing Afforestation to Increase Carbon Storage

Excerpt from: Ryan, M.G., M.E. Harmon, R.A. Birdsey, C.P. Giardina, L.S. Heath, R.A. Houghton, R.B. Jackson, D.C. McKinley, J.F. Morrison, B.C. Murray, D.E. Pataki, and K.E. Skog. 2010. A Synthesis of the Science on Forests and Carbon for U.S. Forests. Issues in Ecology, Report Number 13, Spring 2010.

We define afforestation as both reestablishing forests on land that has been without forest cover for some time and the establishment of forest on land that has not previously been forested (note …

Monitoring Woodlands for Climate Impacts

A forest in northern Ohio.
Figure 1. Monitoring your forest starts with walking through it.

Written by Eli Sagor, University of Minnesota

Importance of forest health monitoring

Early detection of new local forest health threats will be important. A changing climate will make trees and woodlands more stressed, and that stress will make them more vulnerable to widespread mortality from insect and disease threats.

Because the specific insects and diseases likely to invade are not always known, it’s important that woodland owners carefully monitor conditions …

Promote Resilience to Change

Adapted from: Millar, Constance I., Nathan L. Stephenson, and Scott L. Stephens, 2008. (February 5, 2008). Reframing forest and resource management strategies for a climate change context. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Climate Change Resource Center. Media: millar020508.pdf

Figure 1. Thinning of overly dense pine stands can promote resilience to wildfire and, thus, to climate change, as confirmed by research in California’s Blacks Mountain Experimental Forest. After the pine stand (left) underwent mechanical thinning followed by a prescribed

Tree Genetics

Written by Peter Kolb, University of Montana

Tree genetics is the study of tree genes – the units of transmission of hereditary characteristics within trees. Each gene is usually a segment of a DNA or RNA molecule within a chromosome that controls the production

Figure 1. Visible genetic variations in planted ponderosa pines from different geographic locations. The dark green tree in the foreground comes from a location with a similar climate, whereas thinner, paler trees come from higher elevations

Microflora and Fauna in Forests

Written by Peter Kolb, Montana State University

Forests (Figure 1) are composed of many trophic levels that include primary producers: large and dominant trees, as well as understory shrubs, forbs, grasses, mosses, lichens, and even algae; large and small herbivores such as moose, deer, mice, and caterpillars; carnivores such as cougars, coyotes, weasels, shrews, and cleride beetles; and decomposers, which could include larger animals such as bears that eat carrion but are usually comprised of smaller organisms such …