Research Roundup

Overviews of the climate change work happening at Forest Service research stations.
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Climate, population, and vegetation cover change impacts on water supply and demand, carbon sequestration, and biodiversity across the conterminous U.S.
Southern Research Station
Eastern Forest Environmental Threat Assessment Center

The Water Supply Stress Index (WaSSI) is an integrated model that estimates ecosystem water and carbon balances and the interactions among ecosystem evapotranspiration, productivity, carbon sequestration, and biodiversity at the continental scale by coupling the key processes of the hydrologic and carbon cycles.

Contact: Ge Sun
Effects of Climate Variability on Forest Hydrology and Carbon Sequestration
Southern Research Station

A series of studies have been conducted in the last few years to understand trends in air temperature, precipitation, hydrology and ecosystem dynamics of the Santee Experimental Forest in South Carolina. This data from a large forested ecosytem will be important as a reference in understanding how climate change and variability will affect the region's water balance and carbon dynamics in the future.

Contact: Carl Trettin
Forest Economics and Policy
Southern Research Station

Shifting climate patterns contribute to changing disturbance regimes in southern forests (insect outbreaks, fire) and, in turn, affect the economic costs of these disturbances. Climate change may also play a role in the societal values placed on forest resources. This research unit explores many of the complex relationships that exist between changing forests conditions, human communities, and economic processes.

Contact: David Wear
Regeneration dynamics during oak decline with prescribed fire
Southern Research Station

Researchers are looking at how forest management practices - including controlled fire - can help give certain oak species in the Boston Mountains of northern Arkansas an advantage under possible conditions created by climate change.

Contact: Martin Spetich
Assessment of disturbance impacts on U.S. forest carbon sequestration
Southern Research Station
Eastern Forest Environmental Threat Assessment Center

Researchers are estimating forest carbon lost due to hurricane and insect disturbances in order to produce more accurate estimates of carbon sequestration by U.S. forests. Equations created to estimate total forest carbon loss based on damage could be adapted in the future to project carbon loss due to any disturbance impact.

Contact: Steve McNulty
Current Applications of GPR in Forest Research [pdf]
Southern Research Station

Analyzing belowground biomass and carbon storage in a non-destructive manner presents many challenges. This study summarizes the current methods for and limitations to using ground-penetrating radar (GPR) to measure belowground biomass. It profiles technical advances that are needed to make GPR effective in a wider variety of conditions.

Contact: John Butnor
Coldwater Streams and Trout Habitat in the Southern Appalachians
Southern Research Station

Climate change has severe implications for the ecology of coldwater streams and native fish species in the southeast. Researchers are working to determine possible changes in regional trout distribution due to global changes in temperature and hydrology. Models have been developed that predict the distribution of native trout species for different global climate scenarios.

Contact: Andrew Doloff
Biomass Gasification Project
Southern Research Station

Southern forests can potentially be used as a source of renewable energy. SRS researchers are studying the conversion of forest biomass into electricity and the viability of this technology in the future.

Contact: Les Groom
Baltimore Ecosystem Study
Northern Research Station

Studies on carbon dioxide concentration, CO2 and H2O flux, and the effects of multiple air pollutants on urban forests are being conducted in Baltimore. Urban conditions may represent possible future scenarios: elevated carbon dioxide, ozone, nitrogen deposition and elevated temperatures. A 40 m Forest Service lookout tower near Baltimore is used to conduct air quality and meteorological flux research. This is the first permanent tower to estimate carbon flux and carbon sequestration in an urban/suburban forest ecosystem. Metropolitan areas have an average tree cover of 33.4% (urban counties) and support 25% of the USA's total tree canopy cover, and their inclusion in climate models is essential for accuracy.

Contact: John Hom
Acid Rain and Calcium Depletion
Northern Research Station

Acid rain and other anthropogenic factors can leach calcium (Ca) from forest ecosystems and mobilize potentially toxic aluminum (Al) in soils. Considering the unique role Ca plays in the physiological response of cells to environmental stress, we propose that depletion of biological Ca would impair basic stress recognition and response systems, and predispose trees to exaggerated injury following exposure to other environmental stresses.

Contact: Paul Schaberg

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