On National Forests and Grasslands, All Droughts are not Created Equal


DeSotoFalls.pngResearchers say today’s droughts are setting in more quickly and becoming more intense. How does this affect the productivity of national forests and grasslands and their ability to provide fresh water to millions of Americans? Eastern Threat Center scientists collaborated with Southern Research Station and university researchers to model the impacts of the five most extreme droughts between 1962 and 2012 across the conterminous United States and estimate their potential impacts on each of 170 national forests and grasslands. Their findings, recently published in Forest Ecology and Management, indicate that the “top five” droughts, on average, resulted in a 22 percent reduction in annual precipitation on national forests and grasslands. Potential impacts included reductions in ecosystem water use by 8 percent, water yield by 37 percent, and productivity by 9 percent. The highest potential reductions were found in the West and Southeast. Read more in CompassLive...

Pictured: Researchers estimate that 14 percent of the national water supply originates on national forests. Drought impacts on these lands have important implications for land managers. Photo by U.S. Forest Service.


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