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Nicholas Skowronski

Research Forester
Climate, Fire, and Carbon Cycle Sciences
180 Canfield Street
Morgantown, WV 26505
United States
Current Research
My current research focuses on the quantification and analysis of the structural characteristics of forest canopies and how this relates to carbon and water cycles. I have recently been using a newly emerging remote sensing technology called LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) which actively characterizes the canopy with a laser beam. My work is split between developing methods for using LiDAR and other remotes sensing techniques for wildfire mitigation and studying how forest functionality changes after disturbance.
Why This Research Is Important
This research is being conducted to provide information that is allows us to map wildfire risks in 3-D across large areas and to use this information to strategically implement fuel reduction treatments. We are also working to apply this work in the wildland urban interface and intermix environments (where homes and forests come together) to help understand how property owners can manage vegetation around their homes to minimize the effects of potential wildfires.

We also use this research to help us quantify how changes in canopy structure from human caused and natural disturbances change an ecosystem's cycling of carbon and water. By further studying these forest dynamics, we can better understand how the forest's ability to sequester carbon changes after different levels of disturbance.

  • Rutgers University (New Brunswick, NJ), Ph.D., Ecology and Evolution, 2011
  • Dickinson College (Carlisle, PA), B.S., Environmental Science, 2001
Professional Experience
  • Adjunct Assistant Professor,  Department of Geology & Geography, West Virginia University,  2014 - Current
  • Research Technician,  USDA Forest Service Northeast Research Station ,  2003 - 2009
    I worked in a technical capacity on a number of wildland fire, fuels management, and terrestrial carbon cycling projects. This work included eddy-covariance system construction, maintenance, and data analysis. I also led the remote sensing efforts during this time at the Silas Little Experimental Forest.
  • Forester,  Ft. Dix, NJ,  2001 - 2003
    This work included silviculture management, fire supression, and fuels management. I served as the installation's prescribed burn coordinator responsible for planning and implementing a fuels management program that averaged over 1000 acres burned per year.
Professional Organizations
  • Member,  Association for Fire Ecology,  2013 - Current
  • Member,  International Association of Wildland Fire,  2007 - Current
  • Member,  Ecological Society of America,  2004 - Current
Featured Publications
Other Publications
Research Highlights

Understanding Wind Gusts During Fire can Help Fire and Smoke Managers

Year: 2018
Wind fields in the vicinity of wildland fires can be highly variable or turbulent, exhibiting significant gusts that can lead to erratic fire behavior and enhanced mixing of smoke into the atmosphere. Northern Research Station scientists are examining the properties of turbulent circulations in for...

New high resolution infrared data aids in the monitoring of fine scale wildland fire effects

Year: 2017
Wildfires and prescribed fires in the northeastern U.S. are often too small to evaluate using satellite data in the public domain and are too large to adequately evaluate on the ground; but, monitoring these fires provides critical ecological and fire hazard reduction information. Now, the commercia...

Fire in Oak: Bringing Together Managers and Scientists for Solutions in the Northeast

Year: 2016
The North Atlantic Fire Science Exchange brings together diverse partners to learn and work together to address the issue of regenerating oak using fire. Through multiple interactive methods of collaboration, progressive discussion and an innovative vision is emerging.

Assessing Fire Risk at the Wildland-urban Interface Using LiDAR

Year: 2015
Assessing wildland fire risk in the wildland–urban interface is difficult because each home and parcel has unique characteristics. Forest Service scientists found that Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) and aerial photography data closely matched fuels estimates made by ground crews.

Fireflux Experiments Improve Safety of Prescribed Burns in the New Jersey Pine Barrens

Year: 2011
Predicting the effects of smoke from low-intensity prescribed fires on local air-quality is being made easier by new tools developed by Forest Service scientists. These tools are now being validated through data collected from fuels, meteorological, and air quality monitoring networks set up near an...

Carbon and Water Cycle Recovery Patterns After Disturbance in Forest Ecosystems

Year: 2010
The recovery of carbon and hydrologic cycling following two major disturbances in pine and oak-dominated stands in the New Jersey Pine Barrens---invasive insect defoliation and fire---are being measured by NRS scientists Kenneth Clark and Nicholas Skowronski.

Hazardous Fuel Assessments Using LIDAR and Field Measurements

Year: 2010
Lasers, in what is termed Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) systems, are being used by NRS researchers Nicholas Skowronski and Kenneth Clark to measure forest structure and canopy fuel loading at the Silas Little Experimental Forest in the New Jersey Pine Barrens.