CRMRN is working to measure the complex interactions between the soils, streams, forests, and the ocean to determine how materials move through coastal watersheds to marine environments.

Some of the goals of the research network include determining how climate change will affect the land-to-ocean flow of materials, what role the PCTR has in global carbon sequestration now and in the future, how important terrestrial nutrients are to marine ecosystem processes, and what might happen if these processes change.

Answering these questions will help prepare local communities and industries for a warming and increasingly variable climate. Climate-driven changes in the movement of freshwater, carbon, and nutrients from coastal watersheds may impact downstream ecosystems and economies in both predictable and unanticipated ways. This research will inform decisions about ecosystem management, infrastructure, and policy to build resilience in coastal communities. It will also provide insight to coastal temperate rainforests worldwide, and inform research into climate-driven changes in other coastal margin areas.

Temperate Rainforest

Stretching across the vast landscape of the Northern Pacific coast is the largest remaining temperate rainforest in the world: the Pacific Coastal Temperate Rainforest (PCTR). The PCTR ecoregion encompasses everything from barren rock peaks, glacial icefields, alpine tundra, wetlands, spruce, hemlock, and cedar forests, to the estuaries and fjords along the coastal margin.

See a map of where we work

Coastal Communities

The natural resources of the PCTR have sustained people for thousands of years. Today this region supports some of the world’s most valuable fisheries and its natural beauty draws in millions of tourists each year. CRMRN researchers work with decision-makers, resource managers, and tribal organizations to inform infrastructure planning, fisheries management, coastal food safety, and climate adaptation in communities across coastal Alaska and British Columbia.

Changing Climate

The PCTR is highly sensitive to changes in climate. Already, the region is experiencing among the highest rates of glacial mass loss on the planet, and shifts in forest type and increased forest fire activity in some regions are occurring. Changes in snowpack, storm patterns and severity, and seasonal drought are just a few of the impacts the PCTR is likely to face. These real and predicted changes underscore the need for a better understanding of the ecosystem functions of the coastal temperate rainforest.

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