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 

For Nesting Least Terns, Water Levels Matter

Least terns (Sternula antillarum) are small water birds that nest along the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers and some of their tributaries, as well as coastal areas in the U.S. Monitoring the species began after the U.S. interior population of least terns was federally listed as an endangered species in 1985. “In the Missouri River basin, least…  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 

Megafires, Wildland Fires, and Prescribed Burns

Healthy forests are important for clean and abundant water supplies. A recent USDA Forest Service study examined how wildland fires, including megafires, and prescribed burns affect river flow. The study is the first nationwide look at fire impacts on surface freshwater resources. Led by Dennis Hallema, research hydrologist and ORISE fellow, the research team analyzed…  More 

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 

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 

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 

Riparian Buffer Trees Offer Unexpected Benefits

Trees take up large quantities of water through their roots, but 99 percent or more of that water moves through the roots, trunks, and branches, ultimately evaporating from small openings called stomata, which are usually located on leaves. There are many ways to measure the movement of this water, although most methods measure the amount…  More 

Loss of Eastern Hemlock Will Affect Forest Water Use

Eastern hemlock grows in streamside areas throughout the southern Appalachian Mountains, where it is a keystone species. Because of its dense evergreen foliage, constant year-round transpiration (loss of water from needles) rate,  and dominance in riparian and cove habitats,  eastern hemlock plays an important role in the area’s water cycle, and regulates stream flow year…  More