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 

Water Yields from Southern Appalachian Watersheds in Decline since the 1970s

Where would we be without the water we get from cool mountain streams? In the densely populated southeastern U.S., forested watersheds are particularly important to drinking water supplies. Recent estimates show that southern forests deliver surface drinking water to some 48.7 million people, with streams from the mountainous Southern Appalachian region alone providing water supplies…  More 

How Sustainable are Eucalyptus Plantations?

Eucalypts – woody plants originally found in Australia — have been identified as one of the best feedstocks for bioenergy production due to their fast-growth rate and coppicing ability, but there are concerns about adverse environmental effects, some related to water consumption, and their water use efficiency is still poorly understood. U.S. Forest Service research…  More 

How Drought Affects Forests and Streams

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. Drought affects the ability of…  More