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Posts tagged: ForWarn

Researchers Track “Gray Ghosts” Across the Southern Appalachians

Gray ghosts are a common sight in the southern Appalachians. A hemlock woolly adegid infestation has killed many hemlock trees in the Linville Gorge area of Pisgah National Forest in North Carolina. (U.S. Forest Service/Steve Norman)

Gray ghosts are a common sight in the southern Appalachians. A hemlock woolly adegid infestation has killed many hemlock trees in the Linville Gorge area of Pisgah National Forest in North Carolina. (U.S. Forest Service/Steve Norman)

Residents of the Appalachian Mountains of the eastern United States have long enjoyed a rich culture of storytelling. Often rooted in a deep connection to the natural world, stories from Appalachian folklore serve to entertain as well as to educate; sometimes, important life lessons emerge, especially from tales of demise. A present-day ghost story from the southern Appalachians has captured the attention of U.S. Forest Service researchers who are using high-tech tools to follow the footprints of lost life.

The ghosts in this story are eastern and Carolina hemlock trees. Hemlocks provide valuable ecosystem services in Appalachian forests, including cover for wildlife and cooling shade along waterways. But they are being killed in increasing numbers by an exotic invasive insect, the hemlock woolly adelgid. Native to Asia, the hemlock woolly adelgid is transported through forests by animals, wind and, accidentally, by people. Often called “gray ghosts” because of their pale, skeleton-like appearance, the dead hemlocks are obvious across the mountain landscape. Using a forest monitoring tool known as ForWarn, scientists are able to see just how devastating the hemlock losses have become across the southern Appalachians, where the hemlock woolly adelgid thrives in the warmer temperatures. Here, the hemlock woolly adelgid is killing trees much more quickly than in the more northern areas of the hemlocks’ range, sometimes in as few as four years after infestation. Read more »

US Forest Service and NASA Team up on Climate Change Early Warning System for Forests

ForWarn maps normal forest conditions as blue and change from normal as shades that range from green to red. This map shows that the greater part of Texas and Oklahoma were experiencing severe forest stress in late September of 2011 from the effects of drought and wildfire.

ForWarn maps normal forest conditions as blue and change from normal as shades that range from green to red. This map shows that the greater part of Texas and Oklahoma were experiencing severe forest stress in late September of 2011 from the effects of drought and wildfire.

The Forest Service recently unveiled a product that helps natural resource managers rapidly detect, identify and respond to unexpected changes in the nation’s forests by using web-based tools.

The satellite-based monitoring and assessment tool aptly called ForWarn, recognizes and tracks potential forest disturbances caused by insects, diseases, wildfires, extreme weather, or other natural or human-caused events believed by many scientists to be caused in part by climate change. Read more »