Research Projects from Sept. 2008; updates forthcoming Oct./Nov. 2011

We study the effects of human activities (air pollution, climate change, land-use change) on the biogeochemistry of forest ecosystems (vegetation, soils, and streams). Key research questions include:

We examine these questions across several scales -- plot, watershed, landscape, region, and continent -- linking field studies with ecosystem models (for example, PnET and TRACE), and regional data sets (for example, US Forest Inventory and Analysis). Research centers on forests in the northeastern U.S., a region that receives elevated levels of acid deposition, serves as an important sink for carbon dioxide, and has undergone dramatic changes in land use over the last several centuries. Past work has included study of historical fire, logging, and old-growth forests in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, and continental-scale forest C budgets. More recent work in central New York and elsewhere is described below.

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The Fate of 15N-Nitrate Entering a Coupled Terrestrial-Aquatic Ecosystem in the Upper Susquehanna Basin

Christine Goodale, Steve Thomas (Univ. Nebraska), Guin Fredriksen, and Jed Sparks

This project is examining the temporal dynamics of nitrate movement into various forest ecosytsem pools (soil, roots, wood, foliage), its transformations, and the short- and long-term source of nitrate to streamwater. Pulses of 15N were added in April, July, and October 2007, and are being chased through forest ecosystem pools, soil solution, the near-stream zone, and exported in stream water (1, 2, 7, 30, and 90 days post-application). We hypothesize that the roles of plant uptake, soil immobilization, denitrification, and stream uptake will vary by season, with plant uptake and denitrification peaking in April, plant and microbial uptake in July, and soil and stream heterotrophic processes in October.

Support from Cornell Agricultural Ecosystems Program (AEP)

from Ollinger et al., in press. Mitigation & Adaptation Strategies for Global Change

Modeling Forest Growth and Decomposition in Response to Changes in Climate, CO2, and N Deposition

Christina Tonitto, Christine Goodale, Scott Ollinger (UNH), Julian Jenkins (UNH), RA Houghton (WHRC), Jennifer Jenkins (UVM), Mark Ducey (UNH)

We are developing new routines for decomposition, carbon allocation, and soil frost for the PnET-CN forest ecosystem model to quantify changes in forest C, N, and water balance across the Northeast US in responses to changes in climate and atmospheric chemistry for 1900 to 2000 and projected to 2100 (NICCR, NSRC).  Simulations of forest growth over the past 50-80 years will be compared with observed forest growth trends to test model hypotheses on the effects of CO2, N deposition, and climate over the last 50-100 years (NSF).

Support from DOE/NICCR, USDA/NSRC, and NSF

Nitrogen Retention across Europe and eastern North America (NiRENA)

Christine Goodale, Christina Tonitto, James Rothwell, Nancy Dise, Gary Lovett and NiRENA contributors

This goal of this collaborative project is to synthesize existing measurements of N inputs and outputs from hundreds of sites across northern temperate ecosystems. Over 250 sites have been compiled to date. A workshop of international collaborators was held in July 2007 in Durham, NH. For more, see here: NiRENA (Password required).

Support from the USDA/Northeastern States Research Cooperative (NSRC)

Carbon Sequestration in Post-Agricultural Old-Fields and Forests

Christine Goodale, Guin Fredriksen

This project has quantified carbon stocks and rates of aboveground productivity and net carbon sequestration in series of forest stands in varying stages of recovery following cultivation and abandonment.

Support from USDA/Hatch Program

Stream Nitrogen Exports from Forests in the Upper Susquahanna

Christine Goodale, Guin Fredriksen, Steve Thomas (Univ. Nebraska)

Stream nitrogen export was characterized over two years (Mar. 2005 – Feb. 2007) for 8-15 small forested catchments at the top of the Susquehanna Basin. Seasonal variation of nitrate concentrations and stable isotope characterization (15N, 18O) suggest important roles for hydrologic routing, snowmelt, and leaffall as regulators of N export from these ecosystems.

Support from NYS WRI , Cornell AEP

Reconciling Approaches for Estimating Net Primary Production: Forest Inventory and Satellite Observations

Christine Goodale, Jennifer Jenkins (Vermont), Jeff Hicke (Idaho), and Mark Ducey (UNH)

Different methods of measuring rates of NPP in terrestrial ecosystems often yield rather different values, with implications for interpreting the importance of various factors affecting plant growth rates and controls on carbon sequestration. This project seeks to reconcile estimates of forest NPP from extensive ground measurements of forest inventories and from long-term satellite observations.

Support from DOE/NIGEC and USDA/NSRC

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