The Konza Prairie Biological Station (KNZ), which lies in the Flint Hills (39°05' N, 96°35' W), is a 1.6-million-ha region spanning eastern Kansas from the Nebraska border to northeastern Oklahoma (figure 20.1). This region is the largest remaining tract of unbroken tallgrass prairie in North America (Samson and Knopf 1994) and falls in the more mesic eastern portion of the Central Plains grasslands. Konza's climate falls within well-recognized temperature and rainfall parameters for grassland biomes. The mean temperature for Konza is 12°C. Total rainfall averages 835 mm y-1, with 75% falling during the growing-season months of April through October. Growing-season rainfall is bimodal, with high monthly rainfall totals during May and June, low rainfall and high temperatures in July and August, and a second rainy period in September. High variability is common in yearly rainfall totals and seasonal distribution (Hayden 1998). Because Konza Prairie is located in the transition zone from mesic tallgrass to more xeric midgrass prairie and has inherently variable climate patterns and productivity responses (Knapp and Smith 2001), it is well suited for examination of possible linkages among ENSO, NAO, NPI, or other large-scale climate mechanisms and ecosystem responses.
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