Photo of Steven P. Norman

Steven P. Norman

Research Ecologist
200 W.T. Weaver Blvd
Asheville, NC 28804-3454
Phone: 828-259-0535

Current Research

Forest monitoring is increasingly critical for maintaining forest resilience over the long term, yet our ability to assess forest health and track disturbance is limited. Dr. Norman's research seeks to improve the way we map forest conditions through better use of remote sensing technologies. Beginning in 2010, he participated in a team that mapped disturbances and seasonal phenological variation nationally at 8-day intervals using coarse MODIS and Sentinel 3 imagery (this is the ForWarn project). More recently, he applied lessons learned to map disturbances at near-tree-crown resolution (10m) using Google Earth Engine and Sentinel 2 imagery (this is the HiForm project). With an emphasis on both efficient landscape-scale techniques and expertise in ecology, he has helped progress our understanding of underappreciated disturbance impacts, such as wild and prescribed fire in deciduous forests, spring freeze effects, multi-year disturbance and recovery dynamics, and non-native insect defoliation. In addition, he has used high-resolution canopy lidar to characterize gradients and legacies of disturbance within southern Appalachian forests. The goal of his research is to provide products and techniques that are directly relevant for forest planners, managers and other decision makers working at scale.

Research Interests

Forest monitoring
Remote sensing
Google Earth Engine
Fire effects
Fire hydrology
Fire tradeoffs
Comparative risk assessment
Forest history
Drought and climate change
Forest phenology
Non-native invasive plants
Old growth forests
Vegetation dynamics
Southern Appalachians
Coast redwood forests
Public land surveys

Past Research

Historical fire regimes of Lassen National Forest, CA
Fire-climate relationships in northeastern California
Coast redwood fire ecology


Ph.D. in Geography, 2002
The Pennsylvania State University
M.A. in Geography, 1991
Western Illinois University
B.A. in Geography-Environmental Science, 1987
Mansfield University of PA

Professional Organizations

  • Association for Fire Ecology, (—)
  • International Association for Landscape Ecology, (—)

Featured Publications and Products


Research Highlights

Improving Hurricane Damage Assessments with New Satellite Technology and Outreach (2019)
SRS-2019-37 Recent advances in satellite technology and collaborative exchange between USDA Forest Service researchers and state forestry agencies have given forest managers greatly improved insights into hurricane damage.

Research Review Reveals Limitations to Drought Impact Monitoring (2016)
SRS-2016-190 A recently published review of drought monitoring discusses the fundamental challenges of detecting and monitoring drought impacts at broad scales, describes strengths and weaknesses of existing approaches for doing so, and presents methods for combining these approaches with supporting datasets to assess drought impacts across landscapes.

advancing the Comparative Risk Assessment Framework and Tools (CRAFT) (2011)
SRS-2011-12 The Eastern Forest Environmental Threat Assessment Center and the University of North Carolina Asheville's National Environmental Modeling and Analysis Center have expanded an integrated risk assessment framework that will help natural resource managers compare the effects of different decisions, despite uncertainties. This collaboration is focused on advancing the Comparative Risk Assessment Framework and Tools (CRAFT) through development of on-line tools and applied workshops.

R&D Affiliations
Research Topics
Priority Areas
SRS Science Area
Experimental Forests and Ranges
External Resources