Climate Research and Development Program

Forests

There are 190 million acres of forest on Federal lands. Forests provide society with economically important goods and services, and a wide range of recreational activities. The Climate R&D Program conducts a wide range of field-based research to understand how both managed and unmanaged forests respond to climate, drought, wildfire, and other disturbances over years, decades, and centuries.

Filter Total Items: 12
Date published: January 25, 2021
Status: Active

Arctic Biogeochemical Response to Permafrost Thaw (ABRUPT)

Warming and thawing of permafrost soils in the Arctic is expected to become widespread over the coming decades.  Permafrost thaw changes ecosystem structure and function, affects resource availability for wildlife and society, and decreases ground stability which affects human infrastructure. Since permafrost soils contain about half of the global soil carbon (C) pool, the magnitude of C...

Date published: December 2, 2020
Status: Active

Understanding long-term drivers of vegetation change and stability in the Southern Rocky Mountains with paleoecological data and ecological models

Drought and fire are powerful disturbance agents that can trigger rapid and lasting changes in the forests of western North America. Over the last decade, increases in fire size and severity coincided with warming, drought, and earlier snowmelt, factors that projected climatic changes are likely to exacerbate. However, recent observations are brief relative to the lifespans of trees and...

Date published: March 25, 2020
Status: Active

Past Perspectives of Water in the West

In the intermountain west, seasonal precipitation extremes, combined with population growth, are creating new challenges for the management of water resources, ecosystems, and geologic hazards. This research contributes a comprehensive long-term context for a deeper understanding of past hydrologic variability, including the magnitude and frequency of drought and flood extremes and ecosystem...

Date published: February 26, 2020
Status: Active

Impacts of coastal and watershed changes on upper estuaries: causes and implications of wetland ecosystem transitions along the US Atlantic and Gulf Coasts

Estuaries and their surrounding wetlands are coastal transition zones where freshwater rivers meet tidal seawater.  As sea levels rise, tidal forces move saltier water farther upstream, extending into freshwater wetland areas. Human changes to the surrounding landscape may amplify the effects of this tidal extension, impacting the resiliency and function of the upper estuarine wetlands. One...

Contacts: Ken Krauss, Ph.D., Gregory Noe, Camille LaFosse Stagg, Ph.D., Hongqing Wang, Ph.D., Eric J Ward, Ph.D., Jamie A. Duberstein, William H. Conner, Zhaohua Dai, Thomas L. O'Halloran
Date published: April 17, 2019
Status: Active

Water Quality Across Regional Stream Networks: The Influence of Land Cover and Land Use, Climate, and Biogeochemical Processing on Spatiotemporal Variance

Land cover and land use (LC/LU), climate, and biogeochemical processing are significant drivers of water quality in streams and rivers over broad scales of space and time. As LC/LU and climate continue to change we can expect changes in water quality. This project seeks to understand the drivers of spatial and temporal variability in water quality across scales using new and existing data to...

Date published: April 15, 2019
Status: Active

Effects of disturbance and drought on the forests and hydrology of the Southern Rocky Mountains

Climate-related forest disturbances, particularly drought-induced tree mortality and large, high-severity fires from increasingly warm and dry conditions, are altering forest ecosystems and the ecosystem services society depends on (e.g., water supplies).  Our research combines long-term place-based ecological data, diverse methods (e.g., paleo, remote-sensing), and networking approaches to...

Date published: April 13, 2019
Status: Active

Forest health and drought response

Forests provide society with economically important and often irreplaceable goods and services, such as wood products, carbon sequestration, clean water, biodiversity, and recreational opportunities.  Yet hotter droughts (droughts in which unusually high temperatures exacerbate the effects of low precipitation) are projected to increase in frequency and intensity in coming decades, potentially...

Date published: December 13, 2018
Status: Active

Connections between Forested and Urban Landscapes and Implications for Water Supply

Interactions between forested and urban landscapes can lead to reciprocal effects that have substantial impacts on water supply and ecology. Air pollution from urban and forested landscapes can be deposited on adjacent forests, while forest disturbance, such as wildfires and floods, can remobilize those contaminants. Additionally, pollutants from legacy land use (e.g., mining) can also be...

Date published: November 28, 2018
Status: Active

Climate Change, Hydrologic Responses and Impacts on Carbon Cycling as Inferred by Changes in Fluvial Dissolved Organic Carbon Fluxes

This project investigates the links between terrestrial and marine carbon cycling and fluvial transport of freshwater and dissolved organic carbon (DOC) to the near-coastal ocean. The project analyzes DOC export that integrates complex interacting processes in natural and human-impacted terrestrial and aquatic environments. Changes in DOC export may indicate changes in terrestrial ecosystem...

Date published: July 14, 2017
Status: Completed

Holocene Hydroclimate of Western North America

The objectives of this project are to reconstruct detailed histories of Holocene hydroclimate and corresponding environmental change from geological archives such as lake sediment, peat, and wood to more fully understand past, ongoing, and future change and its impacts.

Date published: July 14, 2017
Status: Active

Terrestrial Records of Holocene Climate Change: Fire, climate and humans

Large wildfires have raged across the western Americas in the past decade including the Las Conchas, New Mexico fire that burned 44,000 acres in a single day in 2011 (Orem and Pelletier, 2015, Geomorphology 232: 224-238, and references therein), the 2016 Fort McMurray, Alberta fire that required evacuating an entire city, and the 2015 Alaskan fire season that burned more than 5 million acres (...

Date published: May 30, 2017
Status: Active

Patterns in the Landscape – Analyses of Cause and Effect

For two decades, USGS scientists with the Land Cover Trends team have used satellite data to study landscape change across the United States. Increasingly, research is focused on understanding why change occurs. Insights into the underlying causes of shifts in land use and land cover (LULC) will allow managers and stakeholders to make more informed decisions about how to respond to future...