In the News
Over the past 40 years since the passage of the Clean Air Act, air pollution from automobiles, factories, and power plants has substantially decreased, leading to better human and environmental health. But air pollution and its impacts on people and ecosystems remain a concern amid growing demands for transportation, energy, and manufactured goods. University and U.S. Forest Service researchers believe air pollution could also be a hidden driver of important changes in the nation’s watersheds following a recent study published in the January issue of the journal Climatic Change. Kai Duan, a North Carolina State University postdoctoral researcher working with the Eastern Threat Center and the study’s lead author, worked with a team of researchers to combine a series of models, including a global climate model, a regional climate model, and the Water Supply Stress Index (WaSSI) model. The scientists ran the models with and without accounting for the impacts of air pollution on climate in order to assess the individual and combined impacts of climate change and air pollution on water availability and ecosystem productivity. Study results indicate that, while aerosols in air pollution could partially offset higher temperatures, greenhouse gases will continue to drive higher temperatures and associated increases in ecosystem water use. Read more in CompassLive...
Pictured: Reds, oranges, and yellows show potential decreases in water supplies by the middle of the 21st century based on stable (a. and b.) and rising (c. and d.) atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases. Maps b. and d. take air pollution into account; maps a. and c. do not. Click to enlarge.
The U.S. Forest Service recently sponsored a two-day workshop in Atlanta, GA, to identify and assess drought adaptation strategies for national forests across the Southeast. In attendance were more than 30 regional experts from the Eastern Threat Center-hosted USDA Southeast Regional Climate Hub (SERCH); the Forest Service Southern Research Station, Southern Region, and Office of Sustainability and Climate Change; and state and federal climate offices who discussed how drought impacts the many benefits derived from forest lands, including species habitat and survival, clean water supply, and recreational activities. Attendees formed working groups to examine management opportunities for improving resilience when coping with drought in the Southeast and to develop a white paper to inform regional and national drought adaptation policies. "This was a well-attended and important workshop, especially when we consider the frequent nature and wide-ranging impacts of droughts across the region and potential for increased drought severity and occurrence in the future," says acting SERCH Coordinator Michael Gavazzi. "The workshop was an important step toward providing land managers with the tools, strategies, and information they’ll need to successfully manage ecosystems for drought adaptation."
Research hydrologist Ge Sun and biological scientist Michael Gavazzi are among the recipients of the 2016 Southern Research Station (SRS) Director's awards. Sun, who has co-authored about 220 papers since his U.S. Forest Service career began in 1997, received the Distinguished Scientist Award "for sustained productivity and leadership in forest hydrology research including the development and application of hydrological models and tools for global natural resource management under a changing environment." Gavazzi, who has served as the Collateral Duty Safety Officer at the Center's Raleigh office for 15 years, received the Safety and Occupational Health Award "in recognition of continued excellence in cultivating a safe and healthful work environment where all employees feel enabled to openly discuss issues and expect timely resolution to their concerns." SRS Director Rob Doudrick will honor Sun, Gavazzi, and recipients of five other awards at a reception in April.
With so many challenges and options to consider, forest managers wondering, “What is the right way to respond to current and future climate change?” may need to reframe the question. “There is no single ‘right’ way to respond to climate change,” explains the narrator in a new U.S. Forest Service Climate Change Resource Center (CCRC) education module, “and many different actions will be needed to address the challenges.” The module, “Responses to Climate Change: What You Need to Know,” provides a brief overview of resistance, resilience, and transition—approaches that can help forests adapt to climate change—and ways to incorporate these ideas into natural resource planning and activities. Interactive features allow users to control their learning experience, with plenty of opportunities to explore additional information and examples of managers adapting to climate change in a variety of forests. The main material is followed by a regionally-specific activity: creation of an adaptation plan based on real-world examples. Read more in CompassLive...