Date of Award

Spring 5-2019

Document Type

Honors Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science


Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences

Advisor/Committee Chair

Justin Minder, Ph.D.


Given the potential for significant changes in climate over the next century, understanding how biome locations may shift in response to these changes may be useful in informing conservation efforts. In this work the potential effect of climate change on the distribution of alpine tundra in the Adirondack Mountains of New York is examined. The ecological niche modelling software Maxent was used to analyze the distribution of alpine tundra relative to 30 year 800m PRISM climate normal data and terrain aspect over the Adirondacks. Random points from surveyed areas of alpine tundra in the Adirondacks were used as presence data in model training. The initial analysis was aimed at creating a model that was able to predict current alpine tundra distributions with a high level of skill. For the final analysis climate variables that contributed significantly to the skill of the model were downscaled to 10m resolution using an average lapse rate derived from the PRISM data. This analysis found that the presence of alpine tundra is well predicted by annual mean temperature. Different warming thresholds were applied to the climate grids and the model was rerun. The projected reduction in area of alpine tundra in the analysis area is calculated along with uncertainties in timing of area decline associated with different emission scenarios and GCM uncertainty.