The past 10 hurricane seasons have been the most active on record, with climatologists predicting that heightened activity could continue for another 10 to 40 years. In early April, Colorado State University meteorologists predicted a very active 2007 hurricane season for the Atlantic coast, with 17 named storms, including 5 major Hurricanes. The analysis included a 74 percent probability of a major hurricane hitting the U.S. coast before the season ends on November 30.
"Coastal areas in the southern United States are adapted to disturbance from both fire and high wind," says Stanturf, project leader of the SRS disturbance ecology unit based in Athens, GA. "But those adaptations only go so far in the face of a major hurricane. Forest owners and natural resource managers need strategies to deal with hurricane damage to coastal forests."
In early fall 2005, Hurricanes Katrina and Rita caused what may be the most costly natural disaster in U.S. history, with over 5.5 million acres of timberland in the coastal states of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama affected. Using available data on the damage from these storms, the researchers constructed an adaptive strategy that distinguishes event risk (hurricane occurrence) from the vulnerability of coastal forests and outcome risk (hurricane severity).
"There really isn't any way for managers to reduce the risk of a hurricane occurring or the severity of a hurricane when it hits," says Stanturf. "The long-term focus of managers should be on reducing the vulnerability of coastal ecosystems, particularly in those areas with higher event risk."
The researchers developed an approach that considers all the potential disturbances in an area--the threat matrix--then assesses the risks of severe hurricanes within this context. Activities following a hurricane event are divided into those dealing with immediate outcomes (short-term) and those managing the recovery (long-term).
"If disturbances such as major hurricanes are in the threat matrix of an area, policies and procedures should be in place to manage effects," says Stanturf. "The infrastructure to restore access and communication should be put into place before the storm hits to meet both the short-term goals of salvage and fire prevention and the long-term goal of reforestation and ecological recovery."
Stanturf and fellow authors use the case study of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita to illustrate the major decisions and actions that must be taken after a major event. These include rapid assessment of damage, protection of timber resources and recovery of value, management of second order events such as wildfire, protection of other resources such as endangered plants and animals, and best practices for proceeding with salvage.
"Stands within a hurricane damage zone that are not salvaged will require monitoring for up to 5 years to detect delayed mortality or the onset of insect infestations or diseases," says Stanturf. "Beyond the initial flurry of cleanup and salvage logging, the recovery process will take many years, and require the investment of time and resources. The recovery period is a good time to look at how to reduce the vulnerability of forests."
Vulnerability can be lessened by converting to species that are less susceptible to hurricane damage, by controlling stand structure, and by dispersing harvesting and thinning operations. The authors simulated the potential damage to 9 theoretical stands of pine trees, looking at how each would react to hurricane wind speeds, to make recommendations for different situations.
"Our simple simulation of stem breakage potential suggests that stand spacing and tree height can be manipulated to reduce risk, and provides a start for managing forests for hurricane risk," says Stanturf. "Additional research is needed on the effects on vulnerability of fragmentation, harvest systems, and other aspects of stand structure."
For more information: John Stanturf at 706-559-4316 or firstname.lastname@example.org
John Stanturf | EurekAlert!
Foxes in the city: citizen science helps researchers to study urban wildlife
14.12.2018 | Veterinärmedizinische Universität Wien
Machine learning helps predict worldwide plant-conservation priorities
04.12.2018 | Ohio State University
Researchers from the University of Basel have reported a new method that allows the physical state of just a few atoms or molecules within a network to be controlled. It is based on the spontaneous self-organization of molecules into extensive networks with pores about one nanometer in size. In the journal ‘small’, the physicists reported on their investigations, which could be of particular importance for the development of new storage devices.
Around the world, researchers are attempting to shrink data storage devices to achieve as large a storage capacity in as small a space as possible. In almost...
The more objects we make "smart," from watches to entire buildings, the greater the need for these devices to store and retrieve massive amounts of data quickly without consuming too much power.
Millions of new memory cells could be part of a computer chip and provide that speed and energy savings, thanks to the discovery of a previously unobserved...
What if, instead of turning up the thermostat, you could warm up with high-tech, flexible patches sewn into your clothes - while significantly reducing your...
A widely used diabetes medication combined with an antihypertensive drug specifically inhibits tumor growth – this was discovered by researchers from the University of Basel’s Biozentrum two years ago. In a follow-up study, recently published in “Cell Reports”, the scientists report that this drug cocktail induces cancer cell death by switching off their energy supply.
The widely used anti-diabetes drug metformin not only reduces blood sugar but also has an anti-cancer effect. However, the metformin dose commonly used in the...
A research team from the University of Zurich has developed a new drone that can retract its propeller arms in flight and make itself small to fit through narrow gaps and holes. This is particularly useful when searching for victims of natural disasters.
Inspecting a damaged building after an earthquake or during a fire is exactly the kind of job that human rescuers would like drones to do for them. A flying...
12.12.2018 | Event News
10.12.2018 | Event News
06.12.2018 | Event News
17.12.2018 | Studies and Analyses
17.12.2018 | Life Sciences
17.12.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering