Climate Reconstruction in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem
When you think about visiting national parks like Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks, usually it’s about where you’re staying and learning a little bit of the history of the area. What usually isn’t thought of, however, is that vast amount of physical phenomena that occur in one of the few intact ecosystems left in the world. In this research paper, I will be conducting a brief analysis of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (commonly referred to as the GYE). In this analysis, I will be utilizing several scholarly journal articles in order to better understand the processes that occur in the GYE and to attempt to discuss possible findings in the change of processes through the area’s history.
The Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem is a collection of preserved areas within the National Park Service (Department of the Interior) and the United States Forest Service (Department of Agriculture), including Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks and Beaverhead-Deer Lodge, Bridger-Teton, Caribou-Targhee, Custer, Gallatin, and Shoshone National Forests, as well as the Wind River Indian Reservation. The GYE is home to three of the major river systems found in the United States: the Missouri/Mississippi, Snake/Columbia, and Green/Colorado rivers. The GYE is typically in a pronounced four-season climate, with significant amounts of precipitation/snowfall and freezing temperatures in the winter months and humid and warm to hot weather accompanied with occasional thunderstorms during the summer months. Another important aspect of the GYE is what lies in the Teton Mountain Range, found just south of Yellowstone National Park. Several mountain glaciers can be found there, including some permanent snowfields and other related features.
The first scholarly research article we will examine is Climate and Vegetation Change during the Late-Glacial/Early-Holocene Transition Inferred from Multiple Proxy Records from Blacktail Pond, Yellowstone National Park, USA. Authors Teresa R. Krause and Cathy Whitlock utilize a specific area of Yellowstone National Park as a locational study for changes in climate since the formation of the study site. The main focus of the study is on a location known as Black tail pond, a “remnant late-Pleistocene meltwater channel that formed when Blacktail Deer-Creek abandoned its course during ice retreat and flowed north of the Yellowstone River, creating a marshy environment and a small closed-basin lake” (Krause and Whitlock 392). In terms of current climatic conditions, Krause and Whitlock describe the Blacktail Pond area as a “wet summer” (Krause and Whitlock 392) climate with high July/January precipitation ratios, which they contribute to the numerous summer storms that appear in the area. Krause and Whitlock utilize a sampler to obtain a “2.85 m-long sediment core from 5.25 m to 8.10 m depth below the fen surface at Blacktail Pond” (Krause and Whitlock 392) and...