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 

FIA Data Inform Studies on Land Use Conversions, Markets, and More

Strong forest markets protect forests by reducing conversion of forests to other land uses, according to a recent study. The study uses data from the Forest Inventory and Analysis program. “Across the Southeast and the rest of the U.S., FIA provides detailed observations of every aspect of the forest resource,” says John Coulston, a USDA…  More 

The Future of Forests & Water in the NC Piedmont

We’re all downstream from something. A new modeling study by the USDA Forest Service shows that forests make very good upstream neighbors. The research focuses on the Yadkin Pee-Dee River Basin in central North Carolina. Senior research ecologist Jim Vose and colleagues have been studying this area because of its projected rapid population growth and…  More 

NASA Proposal Selected for Funding

Forests – and other plant communities – pull carbon dioxide gas out of the air and store it, or convert it into forms the rest of life on earth can use. “The conversion of carbon dioxide gas into other carbon-containing forms is called primary productivity,” says U.S. Forest Service scientist Jim Vose. Productivity in the…  More 

Forests, Farms, or Houses?

Molecules relentlessly cycle from one form to another. “Simple human activities, such as building homes, can affect these cycles,” says U.S. Forest Service research soil scientist Jennifer Knoepp. For example, trees growing near streams affect the way nitrogen and other nutrients move from the land to the water. “Riparian zones play a critical role in…  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 

An Assignment in Africa Connects Forests, Water, and People

Steve McNulty, Ge Sun, and Erika (Cohen) Mack hiked for three hours on a winding trail over steep hills through land thick with trees and vines. They arrived at a pool and looked up at a towering waterfall. If they had stood at the top of the waterfall, they would have seen forested land stretching…  More 

Dry Tropical Forests in the Caribbean and Latin America under Threat

The climate and fertile soils of the dry tropical forests of Latin America and the Caribbean have been important to humans as areas to grow crops since pre-Columbian times. Because of this and more recent use for intensive cultivation and cattle grazing, many of these forests have been cleared, with less than 10 percent of…  More 

The Appalachian-Cumberland Highland: The Next 50 Years

Knowing more about how the future might unfold can improve decisions that are sure to have long-term consequences. The Southern Forest Futures Project, a multi-agency effort led by the U.S. Forest Service, aimed to forecast and interpret changes in southern forests under multiple scenarios over the next several decades. The project also included a suite…  More 

Climate and Society Will Determine the Future of Wildfire in the South

A new study by U.S. Forest Service scientists and collaborators projects a four percent increase overall in acres burned by wildfire in the Southeast by 2060, but with substantial uncertainties and large variations by state and ecoregion, including a 34 percent increase in acres burned due to lightning-caused fires. The study, just published in the…  More