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Learn about NWT LTER and
• High elevation "water towers"
• Early warning signs
• Life in the extremes
• Rocky Mountain lake algae

The Niwot Ridge LTER program

The Niwot Ridge LTER (NWT) program is an interdisciplinary research program with the long-term goals of building a predictive understanding of ecological processes in high-elevation mountain ecosystems and contributing to broad conceptual advances in ecology. NWT also provides education, outreach, and knowledge to inform alpine resource management and conservation. Our program is built on a foundation of more than 35 years of research that includes decades-long experiments and monitoring designed to understand ecological dynamics and trajectories of change.

Mountain ecosystems are among the most vulnerable to environmental change. In this high-elevation, resource-poor environment, changes in temperature and precipitation alter snowpack, growing season length, and water flow dynamics and high levels of atmospheric deposition shift nutrient limitations. However, vulnerability to such environmental changes is difficult to predict in a system characterized by spatial complexity and temporal variability. Both terrain and biota modulate climate effects spatially and temporally in mountain ecosystems by dictating the wind-driven redistribution of snow and the onset and speed of snowmelt. The downhill flow of water from snowmelt links terrestrial habitats and connects them with alpine lakes and streams. Long-term observations at NWT suggest that this complexity can lead to both rapid change and stability. Our research at NWT is aimed at gaining a better understanding of where and when environmental changes lead to ecological changes, and elucidating the mechanisms driving ecological responsiveness and stability.


February 23, 2018

Drier conditions could doom Colorado spruce and fir trees.

Drier summers and a decline in average snowpack over the past 40 years have severely hampered the...

November 28, 2017

NWT Research Funding RFP: 2018.

Information on Niwot Ridge Long-term Ecological Research Program 2018 request for proposals.

September 7, 2017

Canary in the coal mine: What the American pika can tell us about climate change.

Pika are small, cute mammals that live in broken rock habitats or talus fields high in the...

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For current climate conditions, click on links below:

Current Meteorological Data Graphic

Current Meteorological Data: D1 | Saddle | C1

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Cooperative Agreement #DEB-1637686. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in the material are those of the author(s) and do not necesarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

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