In the News
Featured Publication: WaSSI: A New Web-Based Tool Assesses Water Supply
Eastern Threat Center researchers and developers of the Water Supply Stress Index (WaSSI) tool co-authored an article about the tool and its applications to modern natural resource management. The article, published in GeoWorld magazine, provides an introduction to issues of global change that can affect water supplies and describes how WaSSI can help users estimate and visualize impacts based on a variety of scenarios. Read the article...
Featured Publication: Highlights of Satellite-Based Forest Change Recognition and Tracking Using the ForWarn System
The ForWarn forest monitoring tool has been operating since 2010, and Eastern Threat Center researchers have used it to detect numerous forest disturbances due to a variety of causes. Center scientists Steve Norman, Bill Hargrove, and Bill Christie co-authored a report featuring examples of some of these forest disturbances accompanied by rich imagery captured in ForWarn maps. The report is intended to introduce general and semi-technical audiences to the ForWarn tool, and to demonstrate how it can help federal, state, tribal, and private land managers focus time and resources when monitoring and responding to forest disturbances. View the report...
Featured Publication: 2010 Forest Health Monitoring annual national report
Annual Forest Health Monitoring reports summarize the status, trends, and analyses of the nation’s forest resources. The 2010 report, edited by Eastern Threat Center cooperating scientists Kevin Potter and Barb Conkling, was recently published and features chapters authored by Center scientists that discuss a variety of forest health issues. Draft reports for 2011 and 2012 are also available online.
SRS Director Highlights Traditional Knowledge During Science Café
Southern Research Station Director Robert Doudrick presented “Listening to the Land and Honoring Traditional Knowledge” during the NC Museum of Natural Sciences’ science café on Thursday, August 29. Doudrick highlighted the importance of respecting traditional knowledge, originating with Native American and indigenous communities as a result of living intimately with the land for thousands of years. This special relationship with the environment can serve as a foundation for long-term forest management, connecting ecological, social, spiritual, and economic understanding to forest sustainability. The café supports the Station’s partnership with the museum’s Nature Research Center to share forest science with diverse audiences. Please watch Doudrick’s science cafe on the museum’s website.
Above: Rob Doudrick, Southern Research Station Director, and Meg Lowman, NC Museum of Natural Sciences Senior Scientist and Director of Academic Partnerships and Global Initiatives
International Water Conference Inspires Flow of Ideas
Increasing demands for water combined with changes in climate pose great challenges to both water quantity and quality, especially in “mega cities” where millions of people depend on a clean and adequate water supply. Eastern Threat Center research hydrologist Ge Sun is lending his expertise to help decision makers ensure sustainable water supplies for people, as well as ecosystems and economic development, across the world’s largest metropolitan areas. He is serving as a co-chair for an international conference, “Water for Mega Cities: Challenges and Solutions,” devoted to the exploration of water issues in mega cities (generally, those with populations of at least 10 million people). Read more in CompassLive...
Left: Beijing, the conference's host city, is the capital of the People’s Republic of China and is home to more than 19 million people facing water shortages. Photo courtesy of American Water Resources Association.
Southern Forest Insect Work Conference Elects New Chair
Kier Klepzig (left), Southern Research Station Assistant Director for Research (Threats to Forest Health), has been elected incoming Chair of the Southern Forest Insect Work Conference (SFIWC). In this role, he will preside over the 2014 and 2015 SFIWC meetings and help organize the 2016 North American Forest Insect Work Conference. Learn more about Klepzig and his research...
Environmental Monitor Highlights Flux Towers and Climate Change Research
An article describing the technology and concepts employed for measuring ecosystem carbon dioxide movement includes insights from Eastern Threat Center researchers. Research hydrologist Ge Sun and North Carolina State University cooperating scientist discuss flux towers and their contribututions to climate change research for the Environmental Monitor. Read the article, “Flux towers track CO2 exchange between forests and atmosphere.”
Special Journal Issue Features International Research
Ge Sun, Eastern Threat Center research hydrologist, and Catalina Segura, North Carolina State University cooperating scientist, served as guest editors for a special issue of the British Journal of Environment and Climate Change. The special issue, themed "Interactions of Forests, Climate, Water Resources, and Humans in a Changing Environment," features Sun and Segura’s guest editorial outlining research needs as well as research results from around the world. Read the special issue…
Eastern Threat Center Tools Support Tribal Land Management
More than 18 million acres of forest land in the United States are under the care of tribal land managers. According to Eastern Threat Center research ecologist Bill Hargrove, the boundaries of these tribal forests are often easily recognized on remotely sensed imagery collected by aircraft and satellites. Why? Because tribal forests are typically very well managed and relatively unfragmented by roads, buildings, and other infrastructure. Healthy tribal forests provide a bounty of products and services that benefit tribes, other communities, and society as a whole. Read more in CompassLive...
Left: A tribal land manager fells a tree during a demonstration on the Menominee Forest in northeastern Wisconsin. The forest supplies a tribal timber mill and employs many tribal members. Photo by Bill Hargrove.
Researchers Map Where Tree Species Survive and Thrive under Climate Change
Researchers from the Eastern Threat Center, North Carolina State University, and Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) are collaborating to project future suitable habitat locations for tree species adapting to a changing environment. In an online article, ORNL’s Climate Change Science Institute reports on the project and highlights the role of ORNL scientists. Research results were presented at the Ecological Society of America’s 98th annual meeting. Read the article, and listen to a radio interview with ORNL researcher Jitendra Kumar.
Featured Publication: Hemlock woolly adelgid infestation affects water and carbon relations of eastern hemlock and Carolina hemlock
The hemlock woolly adelgid is killing hemlock trees throughout the eastern United States, but little has been known about how infestations of this invasive insect actually cause mortality. In a study led by Jean-Christophe Domec, a North Carolina State University cooperating scientist with the Eastern Threat Center, researchers examined changes in water use and carbon uptake in infested trees to determine impacts on growth and productivity. Results were published in the journal New Phytologist. Read the article…
How Green is a Healthy Forest?
As new spring leaves emerged and a wave of green moved up through the United States, the 2013 growing season began—and U.S. Forest Service researchers were watching. In forests, greenness levels change with natural rhythms called phenology, including seasonal changes, growth and mortality, year-to-year climate variation, and effects of disturbance. All of these indicators are important to forest health. To help managers of federal, state, and private lands monitor this greenness, Eastern Threat Center scientists, working with federal and university partners, developed the ForWarn forest monitoring system. Several new ForWarn features have been added for the 2013 growing season to aid researchers and managers. Read more in CompassLive...
Above: Researchers have introduced new ForWarn map products to better monitor forest disturbances when year-to-year climate variation interferes with disturbance detection. This ForWarn image from July 11, 2013 shows an ongoing gypsy moth defoliation across western New York and Pennsylvania.
Nature Article Quotes Eastern Threat Center Researcher
Chinese government officials are undertaking an enormous task: to prevent and control groundwater contamination in order to improve the lives of hundreds of millions of people. An article in the journal Nature describes what is known about the extent of groundwater pollution in China and outlines the government's strategy for addressing the issue. The article quotes Eastern Threat Center research hydrologist Ge Sun (left), whose collaborative research with the US-China Carbon Consortium has led to a greater understanding of water cycles in China's ecosystems. Sun is serving as a co-chair of an international water conference to be held in Beijing, China, in September. Read the Nature article, "China gears up to tackle tainted water."
NASA Honors ForWarn Team with Group Achievement Award
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has honored the development team behind the ForWarn forest monitoring system with a Group Achievement Award. The award recognizes multiple federal and university partners “for creating the first near real-time forest threat early warning system in the continental United States.” NASA’s Group Achievement Award is based on several criteria that demonstrate a substantial contribution to NASA’s mission. Read more in CompassLive...
Left: Eastern Threat Center scientists Bill Hargrove, Bill Christie, and Steve Norman (l to r) are among the award recipients.
National Ecosystem Monitoring Network Taps Eastern Threat Center Research Sites
In eastern North Carolina, three towers outfitted with state-of-the-art sensors are continuously measuring the movement of carbon dioxide, water vapor, and energy between the atmosphere and land surface. These “flux” towers—located on Eastern Threat Center research sites that include a loblolly pine plantation, a clearcut plantation, and a forested wetland—provide real-time information that researchers around the world can use to study forest ecosystem responses to climatic changes. The AmeriFlux Network Management Project selected these research sites for inclusion in a national network of long-term ecological monitoring stations as part of its new planning effort. These core sites will provide an open platform for collaboration with other researchers as well as validation and development for research models. Read more in CompassLive...
Native forests and grasslands across the world face a range of threats, including climate change, urbanization, and exotic species invasions. Ecosystem restoration is frequently offered as a partial solution to these threats, because less stressed ecosystems seem better equipped to resist invasion. “By aiming to restore ecosystem resilience, plant communities can endure in the face of drastic disturbance–whether induced by climate change or biotic invasion,” says Qinfeng Guo, an Eastern Threat Center research ecologist and author, along with co-author Steve Norman, of a chapter in the new book Invasive Plant Ecology. Read more in CompassLive...
Landscape Pattern Research Featured in Northern Woodlands Magazine
When it comes to sustaining forest resources, pattern matters. In a study led by Eastern Threat Center research ecologist Kurt Riitters, scientists analyzed forest loss and gain throughout the lower 48 United States between 2001 and 2006 and discovered a net loss of forest land—with a significantly greater area of interior forest lost compared to total forest area lost. An article in Northern Woodlands magazine’s spring 2013 issue highlights northeastern U.S. forest landscape patterns revealed through this research and describes why interior forest loss threatens the sustainability of biological communities and ecosystem services that require large areas of intact forest land. Read the article, “Interiors: Disappearing Fast in a Forest Near You.”
Eastern Threat Center Co-Hosted Cultural Awareness Luncheon
The Eastern Threat Center recently co-hosted an All Cultures Luncheon to expand cultural awareness for Forest Service staff and collaborators in the Raleigh/Research Triangle Park area. Luncheon keynote speaker Victor Harris, publisher of the Raleigh-based Minority Landowner Magazine, highlighted the importance of “short and long term strategies for sustainable land management,” especially for minority agricultural and forest landowners, and shared tips to effectively reach diverse audiences. Forest Service and partner participants from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and South Atlantic Landscape Conservation Cooperative explored the dynamic, proud heritage of the African American Gullah culture and sustainable conservation efforts off the coast of South Carolina through a NRCS-produced documentary, “St. Helena Island – A Better Place.” Participants also shared and discussed treasured items representing various cultures—including Columbian, American, Canadian, Native American, African, and Asian-Pacific American—that spanned several decades. Read more in CompassLive...
Above: The Raleigh/RTP All Cultures Luncheon expanded cultural awareness and understanding for Forest Service and partner participants. From left to right: Victor Harris, Minority Landowner Magazine; Kier Klepzig, Southern Research Station; Ge Sun, Eastern Threat Center; Erika Cohen, Eastern Threat Center; and Ken McDermond, South Atlantic Landscape Conservation Cooperative.
Climate Change Science Tool Supports a Variety of Forest Planning Projects
From pine forests of the southern United States to mountainous forests of western North Carolina and California’s Sierra Nevada region, forest planning efforts rely on the best available climate change science to support decision making. Natural resource specialists and enthusiasts who must consider numerous forest values and threats are benefitting from the flexible Template for Assessing Climate Change Impacts and Management Options (TACCIMO) tool, which is streamlining a variety of forest sustainability planning projects. Visit the TACCIMO tool's news page to learn more about exciting collaborations and new publications as well as ongoing outreach efforts and training opportunities.
Biological Scientist Enhances Natural Resource Management through Tribal Relations
, Eastern Threat Center biological scientist and doctoral student at Northern Arizona University, serves as a point of contact for the Southern Research Station’s (SRS) Tribal Relations initiatives. She and SRS forester Wayne Zipperer are working to increase reciprocal communication, expand science delivery, and share technical and scientific information and tools to enhance natural resource management. Read more about Serra's work in the Forest Service Office of Tribal Relations newsletter...
Featured Publication: Forest Influences on Climate and Water Resources at the Landscape to Regional Scale
More than 30% of the earth’s land surface is forested, and researchers have long understood that climate determines the locations and characteristics of these forested lands. What is often less understood is how forests influence climate and water resources. Eastern Threat Center research hydrologist Ge Sun co-authored a book chapter that describes a web of interactions among forests, climate, and water based on studies in the southeastern United States and northern China. The chapter also identifies research needed to support forest management in a changing climate. Read the chapter, which was published in the book Landscape Ecology for Sustainable Environment and Culture.
Two scientific papers co-authored by Eastern Threat Center researchers and featured in the journal Risk Analysis are recognized for their contributions to the field of ecological risk assessment. In a special journal issue, Risk Analysis editor Wayne Landis selected 25 key papers published in the journal since its founding in 1981 that represent broad topics and milestones in the development of ecological risk assessment. Among the selected papers related to nonnative species and conservation, Landis states that two 2009 papers by research ecologist Frank Koch (left), biometrician Bill Smith (right), and collaborators “helped set the standard” for risk analysis of pest invasions. One of the papers, “Evaluating critical uncertainty thresholds in a spatial model of forest pest invasion risk,” was previously honored with Risk Analysis’ 2009 Best Paper Award. Read more in CompassLive...
Water Management: A Balancing Act
It may come as little surprise that human activities and climate influence the volume of water in rivers, but Forest Service research is now revealing just how much. Eastern Threat Center scientists are examining the individual and combined effects of changing land cover, human water use, and climate through time. Their efforts are providing a clearer picture of how these factors impact river flows needed to support healthy aquatic life and provide water for domestic use, agriculture, and energy. Read more in CompassLive...
Forest Service Associate Chief Explores the Wonders of Forest Science
Mary Wagner, Forest Service Associate Chief, recently toured project and partnership sites within the Southern Region and Southern Research Station (SRS), spending an afternoon with SRS Raleigh-based partners at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences’ new wing, the Nature Research Center. Wagner learned more about current and future Station collaborative efforts with North Carolina State University (NCSU), the North Carolina Department of Agriculture, and the museum, all uniquely poised to expand awareness and understanding of SRS research efforts. During her visit, key Eastern Threat Center projects were highlighted, including the Template for Assessing Climate Change Impacts and Management Options and ForWarn, the Center’s forest disturbance monitoring tool. Read more in CompassLive...
Above: Forest Service Associate Chief Mary Wagner (3rd from left) is flanked by (from left) SRS Director Rob Doudrick, NCSU Department of Forestry Head Barry Goldfarb, Nature Research Center Director Meg Lowman, SRS Assistant Director Kier Klepzig, SRS Partnership Director Cheryl Jefferson, and Nature Research Center Biodiversity and Earth Observation Lab Director Roland Kays.
Forest Science Shared With Minority Landowners
The Southern Research Station (SRS) recently co-sponsored Minority Landowner Magazine’s Seventh Anniversary Conference in Greensboro, NC. More than 250 multicultural participants attended workshops and gained insight from speakers focused on this year’s theme, “Keeping Your Farm Productive, Profitable, and Yours.” Station and Eastern Threat Center attendees shared informational materials and discussed forest science products and services to help keep forestland healthy. Minority Landowner Magazine publisher Victor Harris lauded the Station’s support, “SRS has been a tremendous partner, showing support to help minority landowners improve their operations.” Harris is also a member of the Eastern and Western Threat Centers’ Technical User Group, helping the Centers expand outreach and awareness efforts. Read more in CompassLive...
Above: Eastern Threat Center Communications Director Perdita Spriggs discussed forest science products and services at the Seventh Anniversary Minority Landowner Magazine Conference. Spriggs (right) is shown with magazine publisher Victor Harris and Mississippi landowner Vickie Roberts.
Featured Publication: Improving Restoration to Control Plant Invasions under Climate Change
Human activities that spread non-native invasive plants and development that reduces forest habitat are serious threats to native plant species. An increasing human population and changing climate add to the complexity of the problem. Natural resource managers working to restore native plant communities must address these interacting threats, but may not be able to rely on past conditions as a guide for restoration. In a chapter published in the book Invasive Plant Ecology, Eastern Threat Center research ecologists Qinfeng Guo and Steve Norman discuss strategies for promoting stable and resilient ecosystems that are able to withstand unusual environmental changes. Learn more about the book...
Research Ecologist Bridges the Eastern Threat Center and Northern Research Station
Lindsey Rustad, team leader and research ecologist with the Northern Research Station’s (NRS) Center for Research on Ecosystem Change, has joined the Eastern Threat Center as an adjunct scientist. In this inaugural adjunct role, Lindsey will be a key point of contact between the Eastern Threat Center and the NRS. Located in Durham, New Hampshire, Lindsey will serve as a northern US representative of the Eastern Threat Center and will be in a unique position to share Eastern Threat Center research with NRS scientists and stakeholders. In turn, she will report NRS information and technology transfer needs to the Eastern Threat Center during monthly video teleconference staff meetings and other virtual communication opportunities. Welcome, Lindsey!
New Book Featuring Eastern Threat Center Research Aims to “Link People and Nature”
The places on the landscape where human developments and natural areas meet, known as urban-rural interfaces, can be difficult to define and challenging to manage. Scientists, natural resource managers, planners, and decision makers can gain insight into the unique characteristics of these places in a new book, Urban-Rural Interfaces: Linking People and Nature. A chapter co-authored by Eastern Threat Center research hydrologist Ge Sun examines how population growth and urban development affect water quality and quantity. Read more in CompassLive...
Eastern Threat Center Scientists Co-Organize Special Landscape Ecology Event
Studying the timing and development of seasonal changes, known as phenology, can help natural resource managers identify unusual vegetation conditions indicating potential ecosystem disturbance or recovery. Attendees of the US-Regional Association of the International Association for Landscape Ecology (US-IALE) 2013 Annual Symposium can learn more about this topic during a special session on April 17 co-organized by Eastern Threat Center ecologists Bill Hargrove and Steve Norman and partners. The special session, "Phenology for Disturbance Detection and Monitoring," will feature 15 presentations on a variety of methods and applications for phenological observations in strategic ecosystem management. Read more in CompassLive...
Featured Publication: Effect of Soils on Water Quantity and Quality in Piedmont Forested Watersheds of North Carolina
The Southeast’s piedmont region is experiencing water supply stress due to increasing human population, rapid land use changes, and record droughts. Eastern Threat Center scientists led a study that compared the roles of two soil types in regulating water flow in the North Carolina piedmont. The study’s results can help decision makers understand how the area’s unique soil types influence water quantity and quality when planning for development. Read the paper, which was recently published in the Journal of the American Water Resources Association.
McNulty Named “Most Distinguished” in Forest Science
Eastern Threat Center research ecologist Steve McNulty recently received the Forest Service national Research and Development “Distinguished Science Award.” He is recognized for sustained research productivity, proactive science technology, innovative leadership, applied forest science, and longtime federal service. “I’m deeply honored to receive the Forest Service distinguished science award,” says McNulty, a 21-year career scientist based in Raleigh, NC, who has written more than 150 scientific papers and given hundreds of scientific presentations. “Forest science positively impacts some of society’s most significant environmental issues, including climate change, water supply, and timber production. I value collaborating with a team of public, private, and university partners who are on the cutting-edge of science exploration and discovery.” Read more in CompassLive...
Above: Steve McNulty accepted the Distinguished Science Award during a ceremony on February 12 in Arlington, VA. Pictured left to right: Jim Reaves, Forest Service Deputy Chief of Research and Development; Steve McNulty; and Rob Doudrick, Southern Research Station Director.
Interagency ForWarn Team Recognized for Federal Collaboration
The Eastern and Western Threat Centers' ForWarn team is among the agency recipients of the Federal Laboratory Consortium for Technology Transfer (FLC) Southeast Region’s 2012 Partnership Award. The award recognizes the collaborative efforts of team members from the Forest Service, NASA Stennis Space Center, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and US Geological Survey to provide and enable a satellite-based forest disturbance monitoring system. Team members will be recognized during a March awards ceremony in Charleston, SC. The FLC has previously honored the ForWarn team at the national level with its 2013 Interagency Partnership Award, which recognizes outstanding collaborative work in technology transfer and is one of the highest honors from FLC.
Above: ForWarn’s Forest Change Assessment Viewer provides a coast-to-coast snapshot every eight days to highlight forest change and potential disturbance.
Carbon In, Carbon Out: How Tree Harvests Affect Carbon Balance in a Planted Forest
As the world population grows, demand for tree-derived products is also increasing. To meet the demand, the area of planted forests to supply wood for products is also increasing. When compared to natural forests, harvests on planted forests equate to relatively frequent ecosystem disturbances. So how do these harvests affect the long-term carbon balance of a planted forest? To examine this question, Eastern Threat Center researchers and cooperating scientists from North Carolina State University (NCSU) developed a 25-year carbon budget (the budget describes the amounts of carbon entering and leaving an ecosystem) for a typical planted forest—a commercial loblolly pine plantation in North Carolina. Read more in CompassLive...
Above: Emrys Treasure, Eastern Threat Center biological scientist, measures woody residue left on site following harvest of a loblolly pine plantation.
The Template for Assessing Climate Change Impacts and Management Options (TACCIMO) continues to expand and provide land managers, planners, and other decision makers with the best climate change science available. TACCIMO’s scientific literature database now contains information from more than 1,000 peer-reviewed sources describing the effects of climate change on natural resources as well as land management options that can help forests adapt to changing conditions. In addition to expanding TACCIMO’s scientific literature database, the TACCIMO development team is generating information to support Land and Resource Management Plan revision processes for El Yunque, Francis Marion, Nantahala-Pisgah, and Southern Sierra National Forests. The TACCIMO team is also partnering with the California Landscape Conservation Cooperative to develop a Vulnerability Assessment for the Sierra Nevada region. Read more in CompassLive...
Above: Eastern Threat Center staff members evaluate an ever-growing body of scientific literature to select the best climate change science available for TACCIMO's database.