Climate Change Effects on Hydrology and Ecology of Wetlands in the Mid-Atlantic Highlands
Global climate change has received increased attention in the Mid-Atlantic Highlands (MAH) Region of the United States in recent years. Several climate models predict increases in mean temperature of 1–5°C over the next one hundred years for the region, which has considerable implications for wetland ecosystems already encumbered by numerous anthropogenic stressors; however, historical (i.e., 1890s–current) data from the MAH presented here show increasing trends in precipitation intensity and decreasing trends in temperature. Continuation of historical trends for the next 90 years are used to predict potential impacts on regional wetland extent and function using empirical and conceptual models. Recommendations for management of climate related impacts on wetlands include analysis of historical climate trends at regional and local scales, establishment of wetland monitoring networks to quantify impacts of climate induced stress on wetland ecosystems, and integration of historical trends and research findings into empirical and conceptual models. Management strategies of this nature will facilitate early detection and mitigation of climate induced effects on wetlands in the MAH.