Climate is a major factor in determining ecosystem distribution, composition, structure and function. Therefore, with climate change it is reasonable to anticipate heterogeneous climate stress across the landscape in response to heterogeneous shifts in climate normals (Iverson et al. 2014). The climate stress metric assesses the estimated climate stress that may be exerted on a focal cell in 2080 based on departure from the current climate niche breadth of the corresponding ecosystem. Essentially, this metric measures the magnitude of climate change stress at the focal cell based on the current climate niche of the corresponding ecosystem and the predicted change in climate (i.e., how much is the climate of the focal cell moving away from the current climate niche of the corresponding ecosystem) between 2010-2080 based on the average of two climate change scenarios (see below) (Fig. 1). Cells where the predicted climate suitability in the future decreases (i.e., climate is becoming less suitable for that ecosystem) are considered stressed, and the stress increases as the predicted climate becomes less suitable based on the ecosystem's current climate niche model. Conversely, cells where the predicted climate suitability in the future increases (i.e., climate is improving for that ecosystem) are considered unstressed and assigned a value of zero.
The climate stress metric is an element of the ecological integrity analysis of the Designing Sustainable Landscapes (DSL) project (see technical document on integrity, McGarigal et al 2017). Consisting of a composite of 21 stressor and resiliency metrics, the index of ecological integrity (IEI) assesses the relative intactness and resiliency to environmental change of ecological systems throughout the northeast. As a stressor metric, climate stress values range from 0 (no effect from climate stress) to a theoretical maximum of 1 (severe effect; although in real landscapes, the metric never reaches 1). Note that the climate stress metric is computed separately for each ecosystem because each ecosystem has its own estimated climate niche (see below). This contrasts with all other stressor metrics, which are computed i
McGarigal, Kevin; Compton, Brad; Plunkett, Ethan; DeLuca, Bill; and Grand, Joanna, "Designing Sustainable Landscapes: Climate Stress Metric" (2018). Data and Datasets. 37.