In the News


EFETAC Director Ge Sun receives two honors in 2021

gesun612.jpgOn June 4, Ge Sun was named the recipient of the 2021 Icko Iben Multidisciplinary Communications Award, from the American Water Resources Association (AWRA). Established in 1971, this award recognizes persons who have made outstanding contributions in promoting communication among the various disciplines concerned with water resources issues. It honors the late Dr. Icko Iben, a co-founder of AWRA, who during his life contributed extensively toward improving understanding and communication among those involved in the diverse disciplines related to water resources.

Dr. Sun was also included in the Reuters Hot List of influential climate change scientists (#634). Reuters identified 1,000 scientists with the biggest impact on climate change science, considering three measures of science influence related to number of publications, citations, and public outreach. Congratulations Ge!

Pictured: Ge Sun. USDA Forest Service photo.


Coastal Forest Becomes Carbon Source as ‘Ghost Forest’ Spreads

Researchers from North Carolina State University and the U.S. Forest Service’s Eastern Forest Environmental Threat Assessment Center are tracking natural and managed forests near the coast to see how the forests respond to changing climate conditions. The research is covered in an ongoing NC State News series about how sea level rise impacts people and environments.

In a study published in Agricultural and Forest Meteorology, the researchers, including lead author Maricar Aguilos at NC State, reported that trees in North Carolina coastal forests were dying at an increasing rate. In 2009, they found about one and a half dead trees per acre; that increased to more than six per acre by 2017. The researchers believe the dying trees are a contributing factor to one of their key findings: the forest had become a net source of carbon. Their findings suggest the forest is both a casualty of climate change, and a contributor.

An earlier entry in the NC State series covered additional aspects of the group's research on coastal forests, climate change, and water.


“We need long-term studies to better understand the carbon and water processes in forests so we can figure out how to properly manage our wetland resources,” said study collaborator and director of EFETAC, Ge Sun.

Read the full story from NC State University News

Read the full research article in Treesearch

Pictured: Researchers are tracking coastal forests using sensors perched on towers above the tree line. Credit: Tree Physiology and Ecosystem Science Lab, NC State University.


Cross-Site Studies Take Root across the Southern Experimental Forest Network

Most of the 19 experimental forests of the Forest Service's Southern Research Station were founded in the 1930s or 1940s. Over the past five years, they have become something new: the SRS Experimental Forest Network. “Each experimental forest is a regional asset,” says Stephanie Laseter, a USDA Forest Service scientist and network co-lead. Johnny Boggs is also a co-lead. “When part of a network, each forest becomes more valuable,” says Boggs. “The Experimental Forest Network allows ideas, people, data, and resources to flow across each forest.”


A recent analysis by Ge Sun and Erika Mack compared precipitation, water yield, and evapotranspiration across sites on all experimental forests in the Network. The work is a foundational step towards understanding the sites that make up the network and will make studies that span multiple experimental forests even more useful. Rabio Olatinwo and JT Vogt have also completed analyses on drought indices across the Network. Several cross-site studies are already underway, and some are nearing completion.

Read the full CompassLive article.

Read more on the Experimental Forests Network.

Pictured: Boggs collects a water sample from a flume at the Hill Demonstration Forest. He helped manage these paired watersheds for 12 years and conducts research there. Photo by Johnny Boggs, USDA Forest Service.


Climate Hub releases hurricane preparation and recovery guides for land managers


hurricane guides

Climate change is increasing the frequency and severity of hurricanes. Southern forest, farm, and ranch landowners need to better prepare and plan for hurricane impacts. The USDA Southeast Climate Hub surveyed hurricane preparedness and recovery resources and identified a need for centralized guidance that is complete and consistent.

The Hub teamed up with university extension and other USDA partners to develop a centralized resource for landowners. Led by director Steven McNulty and coordinator Michael Gavazzi, the authors produced a series of 23 Hurricane Preparation and Recovery guides focused on the most economically important commodities for coastal states in the southeastern U.S. including timber, livestock, row crops, aquaculture, and more. The guides provide a one-stop shop for landowners or managers seeking resources for hurricane preparedness, recovery, and long-term resilience. The Southeast Climate Hub intends to periodically update the guides to keep them current.

Read the complete CompassLive article.

Access the hurricane preparedness and recovery guides.


Pictured: The series includes guides for forest resources, dairy, poultry, watermelons, and more — with regional and state versions for each. USDA Forest Service image.


New study assesses impact of urbanization on watersheds
Urbanization is inevitable with a growing population, but what consequences does this have for the water we rely on? Cheng Li, a former visiting scholar at North Carolina State University from the Guangdong Academy of Sciences, along with USDA Forest Service scientists Ge Sun, Peter Caldwell, and Erika Mack modeled the effects of urbanization on surface water across the contiguous U.S. The results were published in the journal Water Resources Research.
“Forests serve as powerful biological pumps and can return more than half of precipitation back to the air, and thus can greatly reduce urban runoff,” says Sun. The team used a Forest Service model called WaSSI to update and resolve conflicting results from other studies on urbanization and plant water use. The model simulated water budget dynamics over 81,000 different watersheds, between the years 2000 and 2100. Watersheds that were predicted to increase in urban acreage were of particular importance for the study, so analysis focused on these areas. This study is the first to examine water-urbanization dynamics in such detail across the entire U.S.
Pictured: An increase in urban land area creates more runoff, which can exacerbate flooding. Photo by Washington State Department of Transportation.


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