Coupled models of hydrologic and ecosystem biogeochemical cycling are key tools used to generalize results from field based analysis at the CZO to other watersheds and future climate and land management scenarios. The CZO continues to provide an excellent opportunity to assess the performance of coupled models and highlight strategies for improvement and/or situations where model limitations or specific parameterization approaches are likely to alter eco-hydrologic predictions. At the Sierra CZO we have used RHESSys (the Regional Hydro-Ecologic Simulation System) as a modeling framework to look at interactions among climate variability and change, and vegetation dynamics and hydrology at daily, and seasonal to inter-annual time scales. Geophysical information provides a template that influences these interactions through topography, flowpath distributions, and soil properties. We present an implementation of RHESSys. We use the model to examine spatial-temporal patterns in the sensitivity of snow-dominated systems to climate warming and show how earlier snowmelt alters not only hydrology, but also forest carbon and nutrient cycling. Model results emphasize the importance of accounting for feedbacks between climate driven changes in hydrology and ecosystem responses.
Tague, C., K. Son, T. Brandt, and A.L. Dugger. (2013): Climate warming and eco-hydrology of forested watersheds in the California Sierra. American Geophysical Union, Fall Meeting 2013, abstract #EP11A-07.
This Paper/Book acknowledges NSF CZO grant support.