Explore featured publications representing ongoing work being conducted by early career professionals across the Department of the Interior's Climate Science Centers and partner institutions. If you are a student or post-doc affiliated with one of the regional CSCs and would like to have your publications featured on this page, please contact us at

Alaska CSC

Two-meter temperature and precipitation from atmospheric reanalysis evaluated for Alaska

Lader, R., Bhatt, U.S., Walsh, J.E., Rupp, T.S., & Bieniek, P.A.

2016 | American Meteorological Society
Image of the University of Alaska-Fairbanks campus in winter

Alaska is experiencing effects of global climate change that are due, in large part, to the positive feedback mechanisms associated with polar amplification. The major risk factors include loss of sea ice and glaciers, thawing permafrost, increased wildfires, and ocean acidification. Reanalyses, integral to understanding mechanisms of Alaska’s past climate and to helping to calibrate modeling efforts, are based on the output of weather forecast models that assimilate observations.

Getting to the root of the matter: Landscape implications of plant-fungal interactions for tree migration in Alaska

Hewitt, R.E., et al.

2016 | Landscape Ecology

Forecasting the expansion of forest into Alaska tundra is critical to predicting regional ecosystem services, including climate feedbacks such as carbon storage. Controls over seedling establishment govern forest development and migration potential. Ectomycorrhizal fungi (EMF), obligate symbionts of all Alaskan tree species, are particularly important to seedling establishment, yet their significance to landscape vegetation change is largely unknown.

Forest-landscape structure mediates effect of a spruce bark beetle (Dendroctonus rufipennis) outbreak on subsequent likelihood burning in Alaskan boreal forest

Hansen, W.D., Chapin III, F.S., Naughton, H.T., Rupp, T.S., Verbyla, D.

2016 | Forest Ecology and Management

In this paper we evaluated the influence of spruce bark beetle outbreak occurrence during the 1990s on subsequent fire probability on the western Kenai Peninsula of south-central Alaska. We found that the probability of fire occurrence increased when white spruce (the beetle's dominant host tree) was intermixed with flammable black spruce, likely because fine flashy fuel loads increased in beetle killed white spruce stands that once served as fire breaks. However, probability of fire occurrence did not increase in pure stands of beetle-killed white spruce.  Our results may help us anticipate the dynamics and consequences of future boreal bark beetle outbreaks as climate warms at high latitudes. 

Soil surface organic layers in Arctic Alaska: Spatial distribution, rates of formation, and microclimatic effects

Baughman, C.A., Mann, D.H., Verbyla, D.L., & Kunz, M.L.

2015 | Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences
Chunk of soil

Organic layers of living and dead vegetation cover the ground surface in many permafrost landscapes and play important roles in ecosystem processes. These soil surface organic layers (SSOLs) store large amounts of carbon and buffer the underlying permafrost and its contained carbon from changes in aboveground climate. Understanding the dynamics of SSOLs is a prerequisite for predicting how permafrost and carbon stocks will respond to warming climate.

Sustained increases in lower-tropospheric subsidence over the Central Tropical North Pacific drive a decline in high-elevation rainfall in Hawaii

Longman, R.J., Diaz, H.F., & Giambelluca, T.W.

2015 | American Meteorological Society
Image credit: Sybil Gotsch

The Trade Wind Inversion (TWI) is a prominent feature in the climate system of Hawaii. The TWI caps the vertical development of clouds resulting in extremely dry environments at high elevations (> 2100 m). In this study we analyze the temporal  and spatial variability of the TWI, as well as changes in large-scale atmospheric subsidence over the Hawaiian islands, and high elevation rainfall regimes over a 40 year period (1973-2013). 

Generalizable principles for ecosystem stewardship-based management of social-ecological systems: Lessons learned from Alaska

2014 | Ecology and Society

Management of social-ecological systems will become increasingly challenging in the Anthropocene. I posit six guiding principles for how to manage systems flexibly and effectively in the face of profound environmental change. Principles were developed based on case studies in Alaska where climate change is occurring more rapidly than at other latitudes. 

Northeast CSC

Evaluating infiltration requirements for new development using extreme storm transposition: A case study from Dane County, WI

Hayden, N.G., Potter, K.W., & Liebl, D.S.

2016 | Journal of the American Water Resources Association
Water flowing out of a pipe

Climate change is predicted to increase high-intensity rainfall frequency in the upper Midwest, but projections are uncertain and vary across climate models. We recommend using "extreme storm transposition" (rather than a probabalisitic, climate model-based approach) to better illustrate possible rainfall change impacts and to help communities identify stormwater-related vulnerabilities and build resilience in the face of climate change.

Realized climate niche breadth varies with population trend and distribution in North American birds

Ralston, J., DeLuca, W.V., Feldman, R.E. & King, D.I.

2016 | Global Ecology and Biogeography

Ecological niche theory states that realized niche breadth should increase with population growth. This relationship has been studied extensively in the context of density-dependent habitat selection, and there is evidence that animal populations at higher density occupy a wider range of vegetation types.

Quantifying carbon stores and decomposition in dead wood: A review

Russell, M.B., Fraver, S., Aakala, T., Gove, J.H., Woodall, C.W., D'Amato, A,W, & Ducey, M.J.

2015 | Forest Ecology and Management
An eastern white pine log decaying at the Harvard Pisgah Tract in southwestern New Hampshire, a remnant of the 1938 New England Hurricane. Photo credit: Chris Woodall

The amount and dynamics of forest dead wood (both standing and downed) has been quantified by a variety of approaches throughout the forest science and ecology literature. Differences in the sampling and quantification of dead wood can lead to differences in our understanding of forests and their role in the sequestration and emissions of CO2, as well as in developing appropriate strategies for achieving dead wood-related objectives, including biodiversity protection, and procurement of forest bioenergy feedstocks. A thorough understanding of the various methods available for quantifying dead wood stores and decomposition is critical for comparing studies and drawing valid conclusions.

Multiple devleopmental pathways for range-margin Pinus banksiana forests

Gill, K.G., D'Amato, A.W. & Fraver, S.

2015 | Canadian Journal of Forest Research

Empirical knowledge of forest structure and development in early successional and range-margin populations is often lacking, limiting our ability to effectively model and manage these forests. Such is the case for jack pine (Pinus banksiana Lamb.) in central Minnesota, USA, where it reaches its southwestern range limit. Our objective was to quantify this population's historical range of variability of structural onditions and development pathways.