Research Roundup

Overviews of the climate change work happening at Forest Service research stations.
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Determining the sensitivity of eastern US fire regimes to climate change
Southern Research Station
Eastern Forest Environmental Threat Assessment Center

Scientists are working to better understand fire across the landscape to help land managers effectively restore fire-dependent ecosystems and address future risks. This research can support social and forest management actions to mitigate climate change impacts.

Contact: Steve Norman
PINEMAP: Mapping the future of southern pine management in a changing world
Southern Research Station
Eastern Forest Environmental Threat Assessment Center
Project website: http://pinemap.org/

The PINEMAP project integrates research, extension, and education to enable southern pine landowners to manage forests to increase carbon sequestration; increase efficiency of nitrogen and other fertilizer inputs; and adapt forest managment approaches to increase forest resilience and sustainability under variable climates.

Contact: Asko Noormets
Systematic assessment of coarse scale, national level and fine scale, special interest area critical load assessments
Rocky Mountain Research Station
Southern Research Station
Eastern Forest Environmental Threat Assessment Center

This study proposes to develop a national map of critical pollutant loads for nitrogen and sulfur that also accounts for the combined influence of multiple pollutants (e.g., nitrogen and ozone) or the impact of non-critical load stresses (e.g., drought, insect, or disease) on forest ecosystem health. This project has been expanded to examine changes to critical acid loading due to climate change, resulting in several assessments.

Contact: Steve McNulty
Assessing forest carbon sequestration and water supply interactions as influenced by climate and management practices
Northern Research Station
Southern Research Station
Eastern Forest Environmental Threat Assessment Center

Researchers are assessing the causal relationships between management regime or disturbance and the environmental controls of biosphere-atmosphere exchange of carbon and water. The overall objective is to measure and model the coupling effects of forest management and changing climate on carbon dioxide and water fluxes in eastern forests of the United States and China.

Contact: Steve McNulty
Effects of urban climate on land surface phenology
Southern Research Station
Eastern Forest Environmental Threat Assessment Center

Researchers are studying urban climate drivers and their effects on land surface phenology variation to determine if a higher urban index (level of "urbanness") affects specific aspects of forest vegetation timing and development. Results of this study may yield urban index thresholds which could be used by urban planners to avoid altering the development of urban forest vegetation.

Contact: William Hargrove
Technology development to support a national early warning system for environmental threats
Southern Research Station
Eastern Forest Environmental Threat Assessment Center

Scientists and collaborators have launched the ForWarn tool, the strategic research component of the national early warning system, to help natural resource managers rapidly detect, identify, and respond to unexpected changes in the nation's forests. ForWarn produces maps showing potential forest disturbance across the conterminous United States at 231-meter resolution every 8 days, based on images obtained over the preceding 24-day analysis window. For more please see ForWarn.

Contact: William Hargrove
Understanding soil and watershed hydrology
Southern Research Station
Eastern Forest Environmental Threat Assessment Center

Understanding the impact of soil properties on forest hydrology and water quality can offer valuable information to researchers and water resource managers in addressing water shortages during droughts. Scientists examined forest hydrology and water quality patterns in North Carolina piedmont headwater watersheds with different geologic features and soil characteristics, Carolina Slate Belt (CSB) and Triassic Basin (TB), and offered reference or baseline data for area watershed planning.

Contact: Johnny Boggs
Carbon Implications of Poplar Energy Crops Throughout the Energy Supply Chain
Northern Research Station
Forest Products Laboratory

Woody production systems and conversion technologies are needed to: maintain healthy forests and ecosystems, create high paying manufacturing jobs, and meet local/regional energy demands. Poplars are dedicated energy crops that can be strategically placed in the landscape to conserve soil and water, recycle nutrients, and sequester carbon. However, key environmental and economic uncertainties preclude broad-scale production of biofuels/bioproducts from poplar wood. Therefore, building on decades of research conducted at our Institute and throughout the region, we are evaluating the fate of carbon in soils and woody biomass, soil greenhouse gas emissions, and conversion efficiency barriers throughout the energy supply chain.

Contact: Ronald Zalesny
Mapping projected change in global and North America vegetation
Pacific Northwest Research Station

The MC1 model is routinely used in North America to predict vegetation impacts associated with climate-change projections to the year 2100, as well as associated changes to ecosystem services such as water availability and carbon sequestration. The MC1 user community spans a large number of international, federal, state, local, and nongovernmental organizations. Now, the most commonly requested summary map products from the global and North American MC1 simulations are available for viewing and download on the Databasin website.

John Kim
Genes for climate tolerance in Douglas-fir and big sagebrush
Pacific Northwest Research Station
Rocky Mountain Research Station

Many forest and range plants are finely attuned to their local climate, making it necessary to match seed sources with planting locations. From ecological and economic perspectives, the adaptability of the plants is critical. Forest Service and university geneticists are working to identify genes that enable certain trees and plants to tolerate and adapt to climatic extremes. This knowledge will enable nursery managers to deliver locally adapted, genetically appropriate materials for restoration even as the climate changes.

Contact: Rich Cronn

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