News and Events
Long hours, lots of reading, and collaborating with fellow scientists around the world is some of what goes into overseeing a chapter for the Fourth National Climate Assessment (NCA4). SRS senior research ecologist James Vose was a federal coordinating lead author and chapter lead for Chapter 6 – Forests of the NCA4. SRS senior economist Jeffrey Prestemon served as a chapter author.
Climate change is here. In southern forests, it takes the form of novel disturbances – different frequency and severity of drought, fire, wind storms, insect outbreaks, even ice storms – or a combination of these stressors.
Forests provide high quality and dependable supplies of surface water. More than 19 million people in the Southeast get at least some of their drinking water from national forests, as U.S. Forest Service research revealed.
However, most forest land in the Southeast U.S. is privately owned. Such land could be converted to other uses in the future.
On May 25th, fourth graders from South Macon Elementary School in Macon County, North Carolina, went beyond the playground to tally species right in their own school grounds.
Forests – and other plant communities – pull carbon dioxide gas out of the air and store it, or convert it into forms the rest of life on earth can use. “The conversion of carbon dioxide gas into other carbon-containing forms is called primary productivity,” says U.S. Forest Service scientist Jim Vose.
A special report published in the Knoxville News-Sentinel on November 20 noted that forest fires have now burned more than 119,000 acres in eight states across the Southeast. Though no lives have been lost in the fires, the smoke has sent hundreds of people from Asheville to Atlanta to emergency rooms and doctors’ offices with respiratory problems.
On November 4, U.S. Forest Service scientist David Wear received the National Award in Forest Science from the Society of American Foresters (SAF). The award was presented at a special reception as part of the SAF annual conference held November 2 – 6 in Madison, Wisconsin.
Across the globe, forests cover about a quarter of all land and are important sources of clean water. A new book, edited by U.S. Forest Service Southern Research Station scientist Devendra Amatya, examines the interactions between forests, water, climate, and management. The book, Forest Hydrology: Processes, Management and Assessment, was recently published by the Centre for Agriculture and Biosciences International (CABI).
A special issue of the journal Forests, titled Forest Management and Water Resources in the Anthropocene, examines the interactions between forests, water, climate change, and humans. The issue was developed and edited by U.S. Forest Service Southern Research Station (SRS) scientists Ge Sun and Jim Vose, and covers topics such as soil moisture, wildfire, streamflow, land use, and modeling studies. The special issue includes an article Sun and Vose wrote on how emerging global threats interact with forest water resources and ecosystems.
Linking the experimental forests into a network could help answer new questions, and SRS scientists at the Center for Integrated Forest Science recently organized a meeting to discuss opportunities for shared research across multiple forests. For the first time ever, 30 SRS scientists from 12 different experimental forests met to discuss these opportunities. Along with SRS were colleagues from Northern Research Station, Forest Service National Forests (Region 8), Forest Inventory and Analysis, and the Agricultural Research Service’s Long-term Agroecosystem Research Network (LTAR).
Historically, many oak forests across the eastern U.S. experienced frequent low-intensity fires that promoted the establishment and growth of oaks. “However, fire and other disturbances have become less common,” says U.S. Forest Service scientist James Vose. “Red maple, tulip poplar, and other mesophytic, fire-sensitive, and shade-tolerant trees are increasing in many areas of the eastern U.S.”
Across the U.S., forested watersheds filter surface water that drains into the rivers that supply drinking water for many of the nation’s cities. Besides providing high quality water for humans needs, forest trees regulate streamflow, mitigate flooding, and help create and maintain the water conditions that support healthy aquatic ecosystems.
The 2015 wildfire season was the costliest on record, with about $1.71 billion spent by the Forest Service on fighting fires. During one particular week in the summer of 2015, fire-fighting cost $1.6 million per hour. Most of the fires of 2015 hit western states like drought stricken California, where fire risk remains high due to 4 years of drought that’s resulted in the deaths of millions of trees.
Ensuring the sustainability of the world’s forest ecosystems in these times of rapid environmental, economic, social, and political change presents considerable challenges. In particular, rapid and unprecedented change portends a future where many of the principles and conditions that we’ve relied on to guide future management may never exist again, rendering traditional approaches to forest conservation and management inadequate.
Carbon accumulation levels in the southeastern U.S. may be slowing due to forest dynamics and land use changes, according to findings of U.S. Forest Service researchers published in the journal Scientific Reports on Friday, January 23.
The February issue of Choice magazine named Climate Change and United States Forests, a book edited by U.S. Forest Service researchers, one of the Outstanding Academic Titles of the year.