Air, Water, and Wavelets

We know air temperature has increased over the last 15-20 years, and that it will continue to do so on an unprecedented scale. But we are still learning exactly how this air trend impacts water. As it turns out, air temperature is linked to changes in our streams — affecting things like flow, soil moisture,…  More 

New Forest, New Water Yield

Today, forests abound in the southern Appalachians. However, there was a time in the early 1900s when many forests were harvested or cleared so that the land could be used to grow crops or provide pasture. “The forests that have returned may use water differently,” says U.S. Forest Service research ecologist Katherine Elliott. Elliott and…  More 

Estimating Ecosystem Water Use

For more than a decade, U.S. Forest Service and Chinese scientists have collaborated to understand how human activities affect carbon and water cycles in managed ecosystems. Working through the U.S.-China Carbon Consortium, scientists share data from a network of eddy covariance flux towers across the two countries. The towers measure the flow of water vapor,…  More 

After the Fire, What Happens to Water Yield?

The immediate impacts of large and severe wildfires on water runoff have long been known to researchers, land managers, and, increasingly, the communities in their path. Devastating mudslides and millions of dollars in flood damage occur each year following fires that compromise vegetation and soils that would otherwise absorb and regulate the flow of post-fire…  More 

Forests, Water, Climate, and Management

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 (SRS) 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…  More 

Dry Air May Be More Stressful to Trees than Dry Soil

Scientists forecast that for many parts of the U.S., climate change will bring higher temperatures and more frequent and severe periods of drought. In parts of the West, forests are already changing as a result of drought, but all U.S. forests may be impacted, in turn affecting other important resources such as clean air and…  More 

Scientists Find Evidence of Regime Shift in Forest Watershed Cut in the 1970s

After disturbances, healthy ecosystems are usually resilient enough to return to a pre-disturbance state. However, some disturbances are extreme enough to permanently shift an ecosystem, a phenomenon known as a regime shift. “Ecosystem regime shifts have been well documented in lakes, streams, and oceans,” says Forest Service Southern Research Station (SRS) scientist Jennifer Knoepp. “We…  More 

Managing Forests for Water: Challenges in the Anthropocene

Humans are enmeshed in an ancient and intricate relationship between forests and water, and as the impacts of climate change are felt across the globe, the relationship will become increasingly important. A special issue of the journal Forests, titled Forest Management and Water Resources in the Anthropocene, examines the interactions between forests, water, climate change,…  More 

Watersheds of the Future Could Mirror a Variable Climate

With some exceptions, precipitation, water yield from forests, and forest growth and productivity generally increase from west to east across the United States. Shifts in temperature and precipitation associated with climate change may not necessarily alter these general west-to-east trends, but U.S. Forest Service and university researchers do anticipate great variability in how watersheds respond…  More 

Water Planning for the South in the New Fire Age

The ability to provide fresh drinking water is a critical ecosystem service of forests, and for many households in the southeastern United States, forests are the only source of municipal water supply. About 32 percent of the Southeast’s total annual water supply originates on state and private forest lands and another 3.4 percent on National Forest System…  More