Research Roundup

Overviews of the climate change work happening at Forest Service research stations.
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Earth System Modeling Project
Southern Research Station
Eastern Forest Environmental Threat Assessment Center

Scientists are contributing to a four-year National Science Foundation-funded project focused on decadal and regional climate prediction using earth system models. The project's specific goals are to improve upon and extend current modeling capabilities to offer new assessment tools for climate change research and management agencies.

Contact: Ge Sun
Forest tree genetic risk assessment system: a tool for conservation decision-making in changing times
Southern Research Station
Eastern Forest Environmental Threat Assessment Center

The Forest Tree Genetic Risk Assessment System (ForGRAS) is a framework that allows managers to assess the relative risk of genetic degradation to forest trees affected by multiple threats.

Contact: Kevin Potter
Detecting recent broad-scale changes in forest biodiversity
Northern Research Station
Southern Research Station
Eastern Forest Environmental Threat Assessment Center

Climate change and other threats are likely to alter the composition of forests as species die out in some areas and move into others, which could alter the ecological function of forest communities. Scientists are using a new approach known as phylogenetic community analysis to measure forest biodiversity changes in the eastern United States.

Contact: Kevin Potter
Assessing genetic variation of forest tree species at risk
Southern Research Station
Eastern Forest Environmental Threat Assessment Center

To conserve the genetic foundation tree species need to survive and adapt in the face of insect and disease infestation and climate change, forest management decisions must consider how genetic diversity is distributed across species’ ranges. Researchers are analyzing two range-wide genetic variation studies of species with large distributions: eastern hemlock, which is being decimated by an exotic insect, and ponderosa pine, a species with isolated populations of special concern given their susceptibility to climate change, development, and bark beetles.

Contact: Kevin Potter
Assessing forest tree risk of extinction and genetic degradation from climate change
Southern Research Station
Eastern Forest Environmental Threat Assessment Center

Scientists are using spatial models of future environmental conditions to predict and map the location and quality of habitat for several hundred North American forest tree species. Known as the Forecasts of Climate-Associated Shifts in Tree Species (ForeCASTS) project, scientists are also determining where each species, within its current range, is most susceptible to extinction as a result of climate change. Learn more about the tool at http://www.fs.fed.us/ccrc/tools/forecasts.shtml.

Contact: Kevin Potter
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

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