AbstractPhenology studies are a critical tool for identifying the ways that changing climate affects species and ecosystems. Here, a phenological framework was used to assess the sensitivity of human behavior to temperature and hydroclimate variables that are likely to change as temperatures warm under 21st century climate change. The timing of visitation to wilderness areas of the Sierra Nevada was used as a case study. Visitation timing was assessed using a backcountry permit database and data collected from weblogs, or blogs. Mean, earliest, and latest visitation dates were regressed against temperature, streamflow, and snowpack variables: seasonally-averaged air temperatures, snow water equivalent (SWE) in spring months, center of timing (CT), and total annual flow. Mean visitation was sensitive to CT, total annual flow, April and May SWE, and spring and summer temperatures, with visitors advancing 0.20-0.28 days for each day advance in CT, and 3.7 to 5.7 days for each °C increase in summer temperatures. Visitors appear to be partially sensitive to both hydroclimate and temperature, suggesting that visitation may occur earlier as spring snow decreases, but also that because of this partial sensitivity, visitors may interact with ecosystems in a different phenological stage as the climate warms. Managers of these areas should plan for changing timing of visitation, and should also consider ways that visitors interacting with different hydroclimatic and ecosystem conditions may influence management strategies.
Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences – American Meteorological Society
Published: Dec 4, 2017
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