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Compass Magazine - Issue 18

Perspectives and tools to benefit southern forest resources from the Southern Research Station

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Answering the Call

Making Science Accessible for Forest Planners

by Emrys Treasure

Researchers from the Forest Service 
 Eastern Forest Threat Assessment Center (EFETAC) 
and the Southern Region
A team of researchers from the Forest Service Eastern Forest Threat Assessment Center (EFETAC) and the Southern Region received the 2010 Regional Forester Award for Technology Transfer for their work on TACCIMO. (left to right) Steve McNulty and Emrys Treasure from EFETAC; David Meriwether, Paul Arndt, Chris Liggett, and Jerome Thomas from the Forest Service Southern Region. (photo by USDA Forest Service)

The phone rang.

In the age of email, video conferencing, Twitter and blogs, it’s a sound Steve McNulty, senior research ecologist and leader of the Eastern Forest Environmental Threat Assessment Center (EFETAC) team in Raleigh, NC, hears less and less often.

"Don’t get me wrong," says McNulty. "Calls do still come in occasionally from folks like a professor in New England, a scientist out of the Rocky Mountain Station, or a technician from the local soils lab. But this call was different. This call was from a forester, and he wanted answers."      (More...)

Cold water for trout

Joint research by SRS and the U.S. Geological Survey

by Zoë Hoyle

Rising temperatures may restrict native eastern brook trout to higher elevation coldwater refuges.
Rising temperatures may restrict native eastern brook trout to higher elevation coldwater refuges. (drawing by Duane Raver, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

The names of southern rivers—Roanoke, French Broad, Neuse, Apalachicola, Tar, Tennessee—are nothing if not evocative. As you read them, you may think first of the long human history of the area, but the rivers and streams of the Southeastern United States are actually better known worldwide for the unique and diverse aquatic ecosystems they harbor.     (More...)

The Water Web

by Stephanie Worley Firley

Southern forests are among the top providers of water supply in the Nation.
Southern forests are among the top providers of water supply in the Nation. (photo by Vekony Zoltan, courtesy of Dreamstime)

Water quantity and quality issues affect every living thing on Earth, yet, until recently, methods for projecting possible future water supply scenarios were fairly limited. In the late 1990s, SRS scientists participating in several national-scale assessments of climate change science and climate-related impacts discovered “a frustrating lack of landscape-scale, integrated ecosystem models from which to draw projections of future hydrologic conditions,” according to research ecologist Steve McNulty. So they set out to build their own hydrologic model—known as WaSSI—to examine how long-term climatic changes interacting with human factors could influence water availability.     (More...)

More Fuel for Fire?

by Susan Andrew

Rising temperatures may restrict native eastern brook trout to higher elevation coldwater refuges.
Climate change will probably increase both the intensity and frequency of fire in the southern landscape. (photo courtesy of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

Fire has been a fact of life for millennia in the South, shaping the range and ecology of pine, certain oak, and palm forests. But along with shrinking polar ice and rising sea levels, there is general agreement among climate scientists that climate change will probably increase both the intensity and frequency of fire in the southern landscape.

In its 2007 assessment, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change cited multiple studies that link the spread of wildfires to the warmer, drier conditions already found in many regions due to rising temperatures from climate change. General circulation models used for weather and climate forecasting predict that by the end of this century, there will be an overall warming and drying trend in a large portion of the subtropics and middle latitudes of the world, including the Southeastern United States—conditions that are expected to also bring an increase in wildfires.      (More...)