Research Roundup

Overviews of the climate change work happening at Forest Service research stations.
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Northern Forest Ecosystem Experiment: Aspen Regeneration and Carbon Cycling

Northern Research Station

The Northern Forest Ecosystem Experiment is a large-scale, long-term field experiment in which harvested forests regenerate in atmospheres with enhanced concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2), ozone (O3) or both gasses combined. This Experiment takes place on the same site as the 11-year Aspen FACE Experiment, following the final data collection for the Aspen FACE project in 2009.

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Measuring wildfire potential using the Keetch-Byram Drought Index (KBDI)

Southern Research Station

A study to project future wildfire potential trends is being conducted in the Center for Forest Disturbance Science, US Forest Service Southern Research Station. This project consists of three phases to project wildfire potential in the globe, the U.S., and the South, respectively. The first and second phases are completed, and the last is underway. View their published work on wildfire trends here.

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Stream temperature influences on warmwater fish and crayfish communities, with emphasis on Yazoo darters

Southern Research Station

We are exploring how summer stream temperatures influence fish and crayfish distributions in Mississippi and establishing long-term stream temperature recording sites. A focal species for the study is the Yazoo darter, a small, warmwater fish endemic to north-central Mississippi. This species appears to be restricted to stream segments with high groundwater discharge, and we are investigating whether the species' apparent groundwater dependence is due to temperature influences of groundwater.

Contact:
                   Mel Warren
Watershed Vulnerability Assessments on National Forests

Northern Research Station, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Pacific Northwest Research Station, Pacific Southwest Research Station, Southern Research Station

Watershed vulnerability assessment as being developed in the Forest Service, is a strategic assessment process that describes conditions, processes, and interactions at intermediate scales. It can be used to adapt broad guidance, analysis, and approaches to ecosystem management to particular places at management-relevant scales. The draft assessment process was piloted on 11 National Forests in 2010. The goal of the pilot watershed vulnerability assessment was to quantify the current and projected future condition of watersheds as affected by climate change to inform management decision making.

Contact:
                   Michael Furniss
Climate change influences on distributions of sculpin in western Montana

Southern Research Station

Sculpin are ecologically important, small-bodied fishes that live on the bottom of cold- and coolwater streams, rivers, and lakes. They are often the most abundant fish in small streams. We studied distributions of two sculpin species in relation to summer stream temperatures since 2006 and obtained historical distribution and temperature data extending back much farther. Water temperature is an important factor in determining summer distributions of sculpins in the study area, and we are exploring how stream warming influences sculpin distributions.

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Climate Change Response Framework

Northern Research Station

Project website:

The Framework is a collaborative, cross-boundary approach among scientists, managers, and landowners to incorporate climate change considerations into natural resource management. It provides an integrated set of tools, partnerships, and actions to support climate-informed conservation and forest management.

Three regional projects encompass nine states, including 11 National Forests and millions of acres of forestland. Each regional project interweaves four components: science and management partnerships, vulnerability assessments, adaptation resources, and demonstration projects. Learn more about how the components interact to build a flexible, scalable, and effective Framework at CCRF Approach.

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Modeling potential future habitats for trees and birds in the eastern U.S.

Northern Research Station

The Landscape Change Research Group, from the Delaware, OH lab of the Northern Research Station, has been modeling potential changes in suitable habitat for trees and birds of the eastern US. These maps are available online at www.nrs.fs.fed.us/atlas. We also look at dispersal potentials through another modeling toolset, and work with modification factors to understand more about the factors not readily modeled.

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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.

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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.

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Comparative Risk Assessment Framework and Tools (CRAFT)

Southern Research Station, Eastern Forest Environmental Threat Assessment Center

Comparative Risk Assessment Framework and Tools (CRAFT) is a planning framework that forest managers and stakeholders can use to help reach agreement on the most prudent path to follow in the face of uncertainty.

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