On National Forests and Grasslands, All Droughts are not Created Equal

While some may remember 2002 as the year the United States hosted the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, celebrated A Beautiful Mind as the year’s best film, and created the Department of Homeland Security, others may remember it for another reason: drought. That year, more than half of the country was in a state…  More 

Drought, Insects, and Oak Decline

Recent research by university and U.S. Forest Service scientists suggests that the traditional sequence of events and factors involved in forest decline may be changing in relation to climate conditions. To look more closely at patterns of decline linked to drought and insect attacks, the researchers analyzed the unprecedented oak death event that took place…  More 

A Conversation About Fire and Water

For hydrologist Dennis Hallema, a recent conference presentation in Kelowna, British Columbia, turned into an opportunity to speak about an urgent research issue in front of an even larger audience. Following his talk at the 4th International Conference on Forests and Water in a Changing Environment, Hallema (an Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education…  More 

For Loblolly Pines, A Fertilization and Water Scarcity Paradox

Driving down a country road or even an interstate highway in many areas of the South, one cannot help but notice them: the straight rows of pine trees, sometimes as far as the eye can see, that make up the 20 million acres of planted pines in the region. Eighty percent of these trees are…  More 

Vulnerability to Climate Change: Hotspots in Georgia

Since the 1970s, the average temperature in the southeastern U.S. has risen, especially during the winter. The increased temperature has been accompanied by other changes: droughts have become more common, and severe storms are more frequent and extreme. “We wanted to determine how these changes in climate are affecting people in Georgia,” says U.S. Forest…  More 

Could Forest Thinning Help Ease Water Shortages in the United States?

Planning for the future of the nation’s water resources is more important now than ever before as severe drought grips the West, affecting heavily populated areas and critical agricultural regions. Forests generally yield huge quantities of water—much more than crops or grasslands—but also use a lot of water during the growing season, so some land…  More 

UNC and SRS Scientists Awarded NSF-USDA Grant to Address Water Scarcity in the Southeast

University of North Carolina (UNC) and U.S. Forest Service researchers with the Center for Integrated Forest Science (CIFS) recently received a $2.2 million grant from the National Science Foundationand the USDA to design strategies for communities in southeastern U.S. shifting from water abundance to water scarcity due to climate change effects on weather patterns. Accustomed…  More 

The Next Fifty Years of Acorn Production

Some acorns go on to become the next generation of oak trees, but others are eaten by birds, bears, rodents, and deer. Rodents are in turn eaten by carnivores, and deer browsing affects which kinds of plants become established and survive. “Acorns have a far-reaching influence on wildlife species and forest ecology,” says U.S. Forest…  More 

New Study Finds Lower Elevation Forests More Affected by Drought

Recently published research by scientists from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC), the  U.S. Forest Service Southern Research Station (SRS), and two other universities shows how the effects of drought on lower elevation forest watersheds in the Southeast could affect drinking water supplies as the region’s climate continue to change.  Taehee Hwang,…  More 

More Fuel for Fire?

Fire has been a fact of life for millennia in the South, shaping the range and ecology of pine, certain oak, and palm forests. But along with shrinking polar ice and rising sea levels, there’s general agreement among climate scientists that climate change will probably increase both the intensity and frequency of fire in the southern…  More