Weather Conditions Inform Timing of Prescribed Fire

Prescribed fires generate smoke, which can harm human health – especially in areas where humans and forests are close together. “Weather conditions are critical for prescribed fire, especially the effects of wind and humidity on smoke plume formation,” says Yongqiang Liu, USDA Forest Service research meteorologist. Liu is the lead author of a modeling study…  More 

How Tree Diversity Affects Invasive Forest Pests

“Invasive insects and diseases pose both ecological and economic threats to our forest ecosystems,” says Qinfeng Guo, USDA Forest Service research ecologist. Guo is the lead author of a broad-scale study of U.S. forest data that examines the relationship between the number of native tree species and the number of nonnative forest pests. Across their…  More 

Using CAT in Local Watersheds

General circulation models use math to predict the future – future rainfall and temperature data, for example. But GCMs are meant for global or regional scales. “CAT is better for fine scales,” says USDA Forest Service research hydrologist Ying Ouyang. CAT, the Climate Assessment Tool, is a model developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.…  More 

Where to Grow Woody Bioenergy Crops?

Demand for bioenergy is expected to grow – as much as 10 times larger than present. Woody crops such as poplar or loblolly pine have the potential to fuel this growth. But where should such crops be planted? How to minimize transportation costs? Where are the opportunity zones? Where are the risks? USDA Forest Service…  More 

Forests Supply Water to Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico’s forests are still recovering from Hurricane Maria. Local scientists estimate that one out of five trees in the El Yunque National Forest were lost during or after the storm. Widespread forest restoration and monitoring efforts are underway. But that work isn’t focused on just the trees in those forests — water supply is an important ecosystem…  More 

Projections of Future Climate and Annual Runoff

Hydrologists have traditionally relied on historic precipitation data to estimate broad-scale runoff. “Rainfall was always number one,” says USDA Forest Service scientist Ge Sun. “But things are changing and getting more complicated.” Sun co-authored a recent modeling study that investigated how other climate factors might influence future changes in runoff. The researchers were intrigued by…  More 

Farm Ponds Conserve Groundwater in MS

Below the earth’s surface, below the slow-moving creeks and placid bayous, aquifers store immense quantities of water. “In Mississippi, 90 percent of drinking water comes from groundwater,” says U.S. Forest Service research hydrologist Ying Ouyang. “Aquifers also provide water to farmers.” Over the past 50 years, groundwater levels in the Mississippi Delta have declined by…  More 

City Trees in Houston

The largest city in the largest continental state in America has an urban forest to match. And now, for the first time, information about Houston’s trees is available online. The My City’s Trees web application is a free tool that makes community tree data easily accessible to the public. The Texas A&M Forest Service has…  More 

Houston’s Urban Forests

Urban forests offer a wide range of environmental services, such as stormwater management, air pollution mitigation, reduced air temperatures (Urban Heat Island mitigation), wildlife habitat, aesthetic appeal and visual barriers. Since 1930, the U.S. Forest Service, Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) program has provided information on the amount, status, and character of forest land across…  More 

Mountain Roads and Erosion

Forests on mountaintops may seem remote. “However, millions of people rely on these forested headwater watersheds for their drinking water,” says Johnny Grace. “For many people in the Southeastern U.S., high-elevation forests are where clean drinking water originates.” Grace is a general engineer at the U.S. Forest Service, and he recently studied forest roads and…  More