Lessons from Forest Soils Research

“Soils are the foundation of everything in terms of growth and productivity,” says USDA Forest Service researcher Jennifer Knoepp. Knoepp explains that “soils have integrated all the conditions that have resulted from the growth of an ecosystem” and thus reflect the past and present vegetation, climate, and biology. This profound interaction between soils and life…  More 

Groundwater Recharge in the Lower Mississippi River Alluvial Valley

The Lower Mississippi River Alluvial Valley is a floodplain that spans seven states. It is suffering from groundwater depletion – a long-term water level decline due to human use. Irrigation and overuse of water resources have led to a seven meter drop in groundwater levels from 1987 to 2014. Water from precipitation and other sources…  More 

Modeling Study on Cattle Feed Crops & River Flow Depletion

A new study uses a USDA Forest Service modeling tool – the Water Supply Stress Index, or WaSSI, ecosystem services model – to explore the relationship between water use, river flows, and fish populations across the conterminous U.S. Brian Richter from the University of Virginia led the study. SRS researcher Peter Caldwell’s expertise with WaSSI…  More 

Coastal Forests Face Rising Sea Levels, Increased Salinity

Ghost forests aren’t some spooky legend. They’re patches of dead and dying trees that haunt the coastlines of North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia where sea levels are rising and land is sinking. USDA Forest Service and Natural Resources Conservation Service scientists are working with partners across the coastal plain to understand where these watery…  More 

Southern Silvopasture

Viewed over the span of human history, the current separation of agriculture and forested lands is a recent construct. However, integrating forestry and agricultural practices offers opportunities for benefits. Combining forests and pastures, for example, allows trees and livestock to be raised for profit on the same plot of land, and the trees offer shade…  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 

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