Research Roundup

Overviews of the climate change work happening at Forest Service research stations.
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Eastern Area Modelling Consortium
Northern Research Station

The EAMC is a multi-agency coalition of researchers and managers at the Federal, State, and local levels that is focused on fire weather, fire behavior, and smoke transport issues in the north central and northeastern U.S. The EAMC carries out core fire science research and product development related to physical fire processes (including small-scale fire-fuel-atmosphere interactions and smoke plume behavior), fire characteristics at multiple scales, and fire danger assessment (including atmospheric processes associated with fire-weather development and evolution).

Contact: Warren Heilman
Tracing the movement of an invasive insect using stable isotopes
Northern Research Station

To better understand the response of insect populations to increasing environmental pollution, we are using stable isotope analysis to trace the movement of an invasive insect in mixed tree communities grown under different air quality conditions.

Contact: Paula Marquardt
Monitoring and Understanding Forest/Atmosphere Carbon Dioxide Exchange: the NRS Flux Tower Network
Northern Research Station

Data from flux sites help test physiological models of carbon exchange and are critical to relating fluxes and remote sensing data. Companion physiological and ecological measurements enable partitioning carbon fluxes into plant and soil components and reveal mechanisms responsible for these fluxes. Data from the flux sites have been applied in ecology, weather forecasting, and climate studies, especially for sites with several years of data to quantify inter-annual flux variations.

Contact: David Hollinger
Impacts of Land Management on the Climate System
Northern Research Station

Research is needed to examine the potential impacts of land cover changes, including afforestation, on the climate system. This can provide a scientific basis for adopting land use decisions that are meant to mitigate global warming.

Contact: Warren Heilman
Greenhouse Gas Impacts on Forest Microclimates 
Northern Research Station

Soil conditions and vegetation characteristics that develop in response to variations in weather, climate, and atmospheric chemistry can have important feedback effects on local and regional atmospheric environments. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has recognized the importance of these feedback effects in further altering the climate system. This study examines (1) near-surface atmospheric changes induced by changing vegetation conditions brought on by elevated greenhouse gas concentrations and (2) the secondary effects of these induced microclimatic changes on forest ecosystems.

Contact: Warren Heilman
Integrating Landscape-scale Forest Measurements with Remote Sensing and Ecosystem Models to Improve Carbon Management Decisions 
Northern Research Station
Rocky Mountain Research Station
Southern Research Station

Managing forests to increase carbon stocks and reduce emissions requires knowledge of how management practices and natural disturbances affect carbon pools over time, and cost-effective techniques for monitoring and reporting.

Contact: Richard Birdsey
Estimating fine root biomass with DNA fingerprints
Northern Research Station

Young communities of trembling aspen (Populus tremuloides) have been grown under elevated concentrations of carbon dioxide and elevated ozone at the Aspen FACE site, Harshaw, WI. We are using microsatellite markers to generate distinct DNA fingerprints for each of the five-aspen clones. These DNA fingerprints will be used to quantify fine-root biomass, in particular to monitor changes that occur when trees are exposed to atmospheric pollutants.

Contact: Paula Marquardt
Forest Carbon Models and Budgets
Northern Research Station

There is increasing interest in accurate estimates of national, regional, state, and local carbon fluxes, and identification of the causes of land / atmosphere / ocean exchange of carbon. Because forests store large quantities of carbon and these stocks are affected by many factors, accurate monitoring of forest carbon stocks and fluxes is a critical component of strategies to manage greenhouse gas emissions and sequestration.

Contact: Richard Birdsey
Impacts of Disturbances and Climate on Carbon Sequestration and Biofuels
Northern Research Station

Currently, U.S. forests and forest products offset about 20% of the nation's fossil fuel emissions. However, recent findings cast doubt on the sustainability of this offset. First, the strength of the U.S. forest carbon offset may be weakening due to forest ageing, climate variability, and increasing natural disturbances. Second, climate change is expected to further increase frequencies of insect outbreaks and wildfire, and alter species composition in forest ecosystems, consequently influencing forest carbon pools in a significant way. These current and projected forest carbon cycle dynamics need to be considered in strategic forest planning and management decisions in coming decades if the nation's forests are to provide stable or even increasing ecosystem services.

Contact: Yude Pan
Foliar biochemical indicators of environmental change and their relationship with site productivity
Northern Research Station

Methods are needed to assess the positive or negative impact of environmental pollution on forest productivity in an asymptomatic forest stand. A goal of several research groups in the Northern Research Station (NRS) is to develop a set of physiological and biochemical markers that can assess the early onset of stress in forests due to environmental factors, before injury is visible.

Contact: Rakesh Minocha

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