Northern Research Station News Releases

Climate Change Effects, Potential Mitigation in Northeast Forests Subject of Forest Service Report

Durham, NH, August 15, 2012 - A new report by U.S. and Canadian scientists analyzes decades of research and concludes that the climate of the Northeast has changed and is likely to change more. The report outlines the effects of climate change on multiple aspects of forests in the northeastern corner of the United States and eastern Canada and concludes with recommendations on adaptive and mitigating strategies for dealing with future effects.

The report, “Changing Climate, Changing Forests: The impacts of climate change on forests of the northeastern United States and eastern Canada,” brings together science on all aspects of forest health, from changes in the water cycle to changes in trees, wildlife and nuisance species. The report focuses on established science and offers recommendations for decision-makers on steps that will make forests more resilient to the effects of climate change. Published by the U.S. Forest Service as General Technical Report NRS-99, it is available at: http://nrs.fs.fed.us/pubs/41165

“Nothing is certain about climate change except that it poses a tremendous challenge to forests,” according to Michael T. Rains, Director of the Forest Service’s Northern Research Station. “Forest Service science is developing tools such at this report that will inform decision-making and contribute to making the nation’s forests more resilient to changing conditions.”

The region covered by the report includes seven states in the United States – Maine, New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island  – and the Canadian provinces of Quebec, Labrador, Newfoundland, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia. The report stems from the work of Northeast Forests 2100 Initiative, a coalition of 38 U.S. and Canadian scientists. Results of Northeast Forests 2100 research were published in a series of papers in the Canadian Journal of Forest Research in 2009.

As part of the Northeast Forests 2100 project, scientists examined the influence of climate change on the forests of the Northeast using historic records, experimental studies, and computer models, and found linkages between climate and the basic functioning of the region’s forests. Scientists concluded that climate change will have profound effects on Northeast forests with the accelerating rate of climate change and the associated stresses that climate change generates. 

 “The quantity of information available about climate change sometimes makes it hard to find information that is relevant to a particular region,” according to Lindsey Rustad, a team leader and research ecologist with the Northern Research Station. “Our intent was to create a credible go-to source of science on the effects of a changing climate on Northeastern forests.” The report concludes with recommended adaptive and mitigating measures that could help sustain forest health and make forests more resistant to the effects of a changing climate.

The NE Forests 2100 initiative has been supported by grants from the Northeastern States Research Cooperative (NSRC) and by organizing efforts of the Northeastern Ecosystem Research Cooperative (NERC). The development of “Changing Climate, Changing Forests” was supported by the U.S. Forest Service, Northern Research Station and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA).

The mission of the U.S. Forest Service is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations. The agency manages 193 million acres of public land, provides assistance to state and private landowners, and maintains the largest forestry research organization in the world. The mission of the Forest Service’s Northern Research Station is to improve people’s lives and help sustain the natural resources in the Northeast and Midwest through leading-edge science and effective information delivery.

The U.S. Forest Service is an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a mission of sustaining the health, diversity and productivity of the nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations. The mission of the Forest Service's Northern Research Station is to improve people’s lives and help sustain the natural resources in the Northeast and Midwest through leading-edge science and effective information delivery.

The U.S. Forest Service manages 193 million acres of public land, provides assistance to state and private landowners, and maintains the largest forestry research organization in the world. Public lands the Forest Service manages contribute more than $13 billion to the economy each year through visitor spending alone. Those same lands provide 20 percent of the nation’s clean water supply, a value estimated at $7.2 billion per year. The agency has either a direct or indirect role in stewardship of about 80 percent of the 850 million forested acres within the U.S., of which 100 million acres are urban forests where most Americans live. For more information, visit www.fs.usda.gov/.

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Last modified: August 15, 2012