Weather Conditions Inform Timing of Prescribed Fire

Prescribed fires generate smoke, which can harm human health – especially in areas where humans and forests are close together. “Weather conditions are critical for prescribed fire, especially the effects of wind and humidity on smoke plume formation,” says Yongqiang Liu, USDA Forest Service research meteorologist. Liu is the lead author of a modeling study…  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 

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 

Projections of Future Climate and Annual Runoff

Hydrologists have traditionally relied on historic precipitation data to estimate broad-scale runoff. “Rainfall was always number one,” says USDA Forest Service scientist Ge Sun. “But things are changing and getting more complicated.” Sun co-authored a recent modeling study that investigated how other climate factors might influence future changes in runoff. The researchers were intrigued by…  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 

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 

The Future of the Francis Marion’s Coastal Forests

When Hurricane Hugo hit the coast of South Carolina in September of 1989, the Francis Marion National Forest (Francis Marion) suffered a devastating blow. Sixty percent of its pine trees sustained moderate or heavy damage, and its bottomland hardwood trees fared even worse: 43 percent were broken and 43 percent were uprooted. At that time,…  More 

Helping Aquatic Wildlife Managers Navigate the River of Streamflow Models

Streams in the southeastern U.S. are among the most ecologically rich in the world, but climate change, land cover change, and withdrawals threaten the health of their aquatic ecosystems. “Understanding how changes in streamflow affect aquatic wildlife is critical,” says U.S. Forest Service scientist Peter Caldwell. “Many states in the Southeast recognize the urgency of the issue and…  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 

Assessing Future Life Along the Lumber River

A new project brings together researchers from the U.S. Forest Service and North Carolina State University (NCSU) with students from the American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES) to assess how land use and climate change impacts on the Lumber River will affect members of the Lumbee Tribe, the largest Native American tribe in North…  More