Geography professor Grant Elliott’s research uncovers the stories of forests and their response to a changing climate. His study of the movement of treelines in Alpine forests paints a sobering picture of the stunningly rapid rate of global warming. “The rate of forest change that we’ve been seeing in the last ten years has been pretty—I don’t know if ‘apocalyptic’ is the word, but it certainly deviates quite a bit from what we would consider the natural range of variability,” Elliott discloses. A global change ecologist, Elliott does not employ grandiose rhetoric—there is no need. Instead, the data gathered from his work as a dendroecologist clearly and irrefutably attests to the current unprecedented rate of climate change. Moreover, his research focuses on the effects of such change, not the causes, taking into account a local ecology’s past, present, and future.
Elliott describes how noticing the difference in physical geographic features led to his interest in how landscapes change over space and time, and how this interest took him from suburban St. Louis to the Rocky Mountains. (Historical photos courtesy of the United States Geological Survey online media archives.)
John Zemke, Director of the Center for eResearch, introduces SyndicateMizzou and its mission of disseminating the research and creative activities going on at the University of Missouri.