News and Events

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.


Fire Preparations at Coweeta Hydrologic Laboratory

Katherine Elliott discusses preparatory measures being taken at Coweeta in the face of the Rock Mountain Fire.


Sap Flux Data Processing with Baseliner

Research Ecologist Chris Oishi discusses techniques for measuring sap flux, and introduces a new processing program that can help interpret and normalize this data.


NC Science Now: The Long, Long Water Record

The USFS research station in Otto, has been recording watershed data every five minutes since 1934. The information reveals a lot about climate change and drought issues.


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 water.


More Benefits of Cool Mountain Air

In mountainous areas, cold air flows along the surface of the earth from mountain tops to valleys, and as it moves, it dramatically affects local temperatures. “Many ecosystem processes – including carbon uptake and storage – are affected by temperature,” says U.S. Forest Service research ecologist Chris Oishi.


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.


Paris of the South, Beer City — and Now Climate City

On August 15, journalists headed to the SRS Coweeta Hydrologic Laboratory in Otto, North Carolina. On the way, James Fox, director of the National Environmental Modeling and Analysis Center, described relationships between “the green and the blue” – forests and water. The topic was a recurring theme, especially during the tour of Coweeta. Coweeta is the longest continuous environmental study on any landscape in North America and one of the oldest gauged watershed sites in the world.


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

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 to 10 million, many of them living in major cities such as Atlanta, Georgia.


The Coweeta Hydrologic Laboratory

Much of what we know today about the hydrology of forested watersheds was learned through early research at the U.S. Forest Service Coweeta Hydrologic Laboratory.


SEEDS for the Future

During April 13-16, 2016, scientists and staff at the U.S. Forest Service Coweeta Hydrologic Laboratory hosted the Strategies for Ecological Education and Diversity (SEEDS) 11th annual leadership meeting. An award-winning program of the Ecological Society of America (ESA), SEEDS focuses on students at the undergraduate level, with the mission to diversify and advance the ecology profession by stimulating and nurturing the interests of underrepresented students to participate and lead in the field of ecology.


Forests Provide Clean Drinking Water for the South

For over 19 million people in the South – roughly the population of Florida – clean water begins in the region’s national forests. That’s according to a report by the U.S. Forest Service Southern Research Station published in late 2014. The report provides information at a level not previously available on the amount of surface drinking water national forest lands provide to communities in the South, and features an appendix of maps that show in detail the water flowing from national forests in the South in relation to surface water intakes for nearby cities and towns.


Chemical Clues to a Forest’s Past in Nitrogen Isotope Ratios

From the depths of the soil to the top of the atmosphere, nitrogen is everywhere. It is also indispensable to plants and animals. The vast majority of nitrogen atoms contain the same number of uncharged particles. However, a few atoms are ‘stable’ isotopes that have one extra uncharged particle. Although the extra particle adds a miniscule amount of weight – much less than one trillionth of an ounce – living things prefer compounds that contain the lighter nitrogen atom to the heavier isotope.


Coweeta Hosts Young Scientists’ Presentations

On November 20, for the second year in a row, 5th grade students from Mountain View Intermediate School in Macon County, North Carolina, visited the U.S. Forest Service Southern Research Station Coweeta Hydrologic Laboratory (Coweeta) in nearby Otto to tour the facilities and learn about some of the exciting research taking place at the outdoor laboratory that’s home to long-term research now focused on the impact of climate change and other disturbances on southern Appalachian forests.


Shifting Rainfall Patterns May Change Southern Appalachian Forest Structure

A new research study by U.S. Forest Service scientists finds that changes in rainfall patterns in the southern Appalachians due to climate change could reduce growth in six hardwood tree species common to the region. The findings have implications for forest managers in the Southeast, where climate variability (more extreme events or changes in precipitation distribution) could cause major shifts in forest composition and structure.


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.


Flowers on the Forest Floor: Herbaceous Contributions to Ecosystem Processes

Plant diversity in eastern U.S. forests comes not only from trees, but from the ferns, wildflowers, and other herbaceous plants on the forest floor. Some researchers have found that as much as 90 percent of plant diversity is due to these understory species. “Until recently, not much was known about the role these plants play in ecosystem processes,” says U.S. Forest Service scientist Katherine Elliott.


Streams through the City: Water Quality and Quantity

Since the 1950s, urban areas have increased by more than 400 percent, and are now home to 80 percent of Americans. Water resources in these areas are threatened, and understanding how urbanization affects water quantity and quality is increasingly important.