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Charles H. Luce

Charles H. Luce
Research Hydrologist
Air, Water and Aquatic Environments
322 East Front Street, Suite 401
Boise, ID 83702
United States
Current Research
  1. Effects of climate change and wildfire on streamflows and forest and aquatic ecology.
  2. Integrated management of fuels and aquatic ecosystems with fewer conflicts over tradeoffs between fuels management and endangered fish and better solutions through conjunctive management of forest and aquatic resources at the sub-basin scale.
  3. Effects of wildfire and climate change on stream temperature and Bull Trout distributions.
  4. Monitoring forest roads and best management practices.
  5. Appropriate and cost effective solutions to water supply and aquatic habitat issues brought about by a changing climate and increased demands.
  6. Improved ability to manage water through forecast knowledge and improved prioritization of mitigation for aquatic ecosystems.
  7. A lower impact, lower cost, and safer road system.

See also:

Past Research

Water flows through the landscape, giving it shape and life. Water is important to people for basic sustenance, economic production, and quality of life. Much of what people do on the land and to the atmosphere affects different parts of the water cycle, including precipitation, snowpack, evaporation, or streamflow. We also have substantial effects on water quality. Regulating our own influences on water requires understanding connections between what we do and the outcomes to the hydrologic cycle. It also requires understanding how changes to the water cycle affect our forests and streams. Substantial work has been done by many scientists over the years to understand the hydrology and ecology of forest ecosystems, particularly aimed at reducing the impacts of forest management on watershed values, such as clean water and healthy fish populations. As the world changes there is a heightened need to comprehend the magnitude and pathways of consequences to people and ecosystems, and to organize a response. There are many questions about what we can do that might be effective in the face of the kinds of changes we are seeing, and there is a much greater recognition of the role of hydrologic changes affecting both terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. Multifaceted research on how climate change affects water, how those changes affect forests and streams, and what we can do with forest, watershed, and water management to sustain a reliable, clean water supply is some of the most critical research we do.

Research Interest
  1. Climate change effect pathways on stream and forest ecosystems
  2. Ecohydrology of climate extremes
  3. Scaling hydrologic, geomorphic, and coupled ecological processes
  4. Snow hydrology
  5. Forest road effects on hydrology, slope stability, and erosion.

RMRS Scientist Profile Video (YouTube) - Dr. Luce describes 30 years of research looking at sediment from forest roads and the development of the GRAIP (Geomorphic Roads Analysis and Inventory Package) tool.

Why This Research Is Important

Current research builds off of past projects on spatial heterogeneity in snow accumulation and melt, runoff and erosion from forest roads, climate modeling, and fire effects.

  • University of Washington, B.S., Forest Management, 1986
  • University of Washington, M.S., Forest Hydrology, 1990
  • Utah State University, Ph.D., Civil Engineering, 2000
Awards & Recognition
  • Fellow of the American Geophysical Union, 2022
    Dr. Charles Luce, RMRS research hydrologist, was among 54 individuals selected by the American Geophysical Union to the 2022 Class of AGU Fellows in recognition for their outstanding achievements and contributions to Earth and space science.
  • Individual Research Highlight, 2011
    <p><a href="" >Evaluating the Effects of Climate Change on Streamflow</a></p>
Featured Publications
Other Publications
Citations of Non-Forest Service Publications
  • Chandler, G.L.; Wollrab, S.P.; Horan, D. L.; Nagel, D. E.; Parkes, S.L.; Isaak, D.J.; Wenger, S.J.; Peterson, E.E.; Ver Hoef, J.M.; Hostetler, S.W.; Luce, C.H.; Dunham, J.B.; Kershner, J.L.; Roper, B.B. 2016. NorWeST stream temperature data summaries for the western U.S. Fort Collins, CO: Forest Service Research Data Archive.

  • Isaak, D.J.; Wenger, S.J.; Peterson, E.E.; Ver Hoef, J.M.; Hostetler, S.W.; Luce, C.H.; Dunham, J.B.; Kershner, J.L.; Roper, B.B.; Nagel, D.E.; Chandler, G.L.; Wollrab, S.P.; Parkes, S.L.; Horan, D.L. 2016. NorWeST modeled summer stream temperature scenarios for the western U.S. Fort Collins, CO: Forest Service Research Data Archive.

Research Highlights

Evaluating the Effects of Climate Change on Streamflow

Year: 2011
Scientists have developed a database of flow metrics for streams in the western U.S. under historical conditions and climate change scenarios.

Decreasing number of rainy days in summer has increased western wildfire

Year: 2018
New research shows that significant declines in summer precipitation, and lengthening summer dry spells, are major drivers of the increase in fire activity.

Monitoring the impact of changing climate on western rivers and cold water species

Year: 2018
While coldwater fish such as salmon and trout can adjust to slightly warmer-than-normal temperatures for short periods, abnormally high temperatures for prolonged periods lower oxygen levels, increase the likelihood of deadly diseases, and cause life-threatening physiological stress.

The Cold Water Climate Shield: Prioritizing High-value Aquatic Resources

Year: 2015
Native trout are culturally and ecologically important, but climate change is likely to shrink the cold-water environments they require. Much can be done to preserve these fish but efficient planning and targeting of conservation resources has been hindered by a lack of broad-scale datasets and prec...

Headwater Streams are Resistant to Trout Hybridization

Year: 2016
Hybridization between native and introduced species is noted as an important player in the decline of native species. The potential for hybridization of westslope cutthroat trout is a major conservation concern for the species. Forest Service scientists found that although the widespread introductio...