Climate Change in Utah - Preparing for the Consequences2018-05-21
A topic of debate in recent years, climate change is becoming more relevant by the day. Climate change is a long-term change in the Earth’s overall temperature with massive and permanent ramifications. Occurring naturally and by human activity, climate change is observed with key indicators throughout the world such as ice cores, tree rings, and coral reefs.
Dr. Jackie Grant, Associate Professor of Biology at Southern Utah University and expert on green infrastructure, native plants, pollinators, and genetics, explains what we can prepare for in response to a changing climate.
“The average temperature in Utah has warmed by about two degrees Fahrenheit over the past one hundred years. Even if we choose to do nothing to slow the change, we still should prepare for the consequences. As the temperature has changed in Utah we have seen decreased amounts of water from snowpack and increased frequency and intensity of wildfires. These changes are mirrored across the world.”
Dr. Grant’s research with native plants and pollinators in Utah connects to global change because we expect Utah’s deserts to expand when forests burn and average yearly conditions get drier.
“Pollinators are important for farm productivity. You might think of honeybees when you think of pollinators, but Utah has many pollinating insects. Native plants are important to all pollinators because they flower throughout the season, unlike agricultural crops that tend to flower during specific times of the year. If we lose our native plants to desertification then our pollinators will have fewer options to sustain themselves throughout the year.”
Currently working with SUU students and North Elementary School, Dr. Grant is looking to find out which plants are most important to native mason bees.
“The elementary school students built trap-nests in which mason bees lay their eggs. The SUU students will collect pollen from the trap-nests to determine which plants the mason bees are using to feed their young. By learning which plants are important to the bees, we can ensure that our farms will continue to be productive."
Observe for yourself the global changes through the amazing resource, EarthTime, found at earthtime.org/#stories.
As a conservation biologist, Dr. Grant’s work focuses on green infrastructure and organismal biology related to insects, mammals, and amphibians. She is familiar with the media and available for an interview. Simply visit her profile.