View From The Top: A SEFS Grad Student’s Work in the Canopy

Russell Kramer, SEFS graduate student, in his element at the canopy.

“If you haven’t been to see the old trees, then nothing I can write will prepare you for their sheer size,” reads a passage from a recent blog post on the Canopy Watch International blog.

It goes on, “Douglas-fir, Sitka spruce, and redwood trees can be 300 feet tall (100 meters, or as tall as a football field is long) and are in fact the tallest living things on the planet. Despite all being giants among trees, these three species have different strategies for growing so large. That is what makes them unique, and it’s the topic of this blog. Scientists like Russell Kramer, Steve Sillett, and Bob Van Pelt are the ones unlocking the mysteries of the trees, and it’s their work I’ll summarize for you, especially Russell Kramer’s.”

Russell Kramer is a graduate student with the School of Environmental and Forest Sciences, who does majority of his research work at the top of the tallest trees in the Pacific Northwest. His work in the canopy and the Franklin Lab at SEFS was featured in the blog post for Canopy Watch International. Read about it here.

SEFS’ Precision Forestry Coop co-leading symposium in Chile

A group photo from the SSAFR 2017 held in Suquamish, Washington

In collaboration with the University of Chile’s Institute of Complex System’s Engineering and the SuFoRun Consortium, the School of Environmental and Forest Sciences’ Precision Forestry Coop is co-organizing the 18th Symposium on Systems Analysis in Forest Resources (SSAFR) for the second time. This year’s Symposium will be held in Chile’s Lake District in Puerto Varas on March 3-7.

“The Symposium has served as a premier international forum for systems analysts, operations researchers and management scientists who study forestry, natural resource management and environmental problems since 1975.” says Sandor Tóth, associate professor at the School and executive director of SSAFR.

This biannual event was last held in Suquamish, Washington in 2017. The Symposium itself will feature discussions and presentations on forest harvest scheduling, optimal reserve site selection, wildfire management, forest transportation and supply chain optimization, bioenergy logistics, invasive species and wildlife management, forest decision support systems, forest economics and other related areas.

Those interested in attending this symposium can learn more at the Symposium website or by emailing Sandor Tóth.

Study says Arctic lakes producing less carbon than expected

Northeast Alaska’s Yukon Flats region, seen with fall colors. David Butman/University of Washington

New research conducted by students and an associate professor from the School of Environmental and Forest Sciences has found that Arctic lakes are giving off less carbon than expected.

The study, published online Feb. 11 in the journal Nature Geoscience, from the University of Washington and U.S. Geological Survey suggests many Arctic-region lakes pose little threat to global carbon levels, at least for now. In the Arctic’s flat, arid regions dotted with thousands of lakes, many of these bodies of water are functioning like self-contained units, not releasing much carbon dioxide.

This is an important finding because the Arctic is warming twice as fast as the rest of the planet. One consequence of that trend is the thawing of permafrost, a layer of earth that has remained frozen for thousands of years in some areas. This frozen soil and vegetation currently holds more than twice the carbon found in the atmosphere.

As permafrost across northern Alaska, Canada, Siberia and other high-latitude regions thaws, microbes in the soil consume organic materials, releasing carbon dioxide or methane, an even more potent greenhouse gas, into lakes and the atmosphere.

Read the full story on UW News!

Harvey awarded funds to track post-fire recovery

Congratulations to the University of Washington’s School of Environmental and Forest Sciences assistant professor Brian Harvey who was awarded funds from the UW’s Royalty Research Fund (RRF) to study post-fire recovery in an area recently burned near Mount Rainier.

With this grant, Harvey and his team will install a series of long-term, post-fire monitoring plots at which they will be able to study how post-fire dynamics are affected by fire severity, the interval since the last fire and local climate conditions.

There are relatively few fires west of the Cascades in Washington since the early 1900s, which makes the Norse Peak Fire uncommon. The fire burned more than 24,000 acres of land near Mount Rainier National Park in 2017. This grant will provide Harvey and other researchers a key opportunity to gain real-time insight into post-fire recovery in a way that has been impossible until now.

The Seattle Times wrote about the effects of this fire in September 2018 after a reporter traveled with Harvey to the field. Read that story here.

App connects kids to the outdoors

SEFS Professor Josh Lawler

Technology is a big part of our lives today, but that means kids spend less time outside. But what if we combine the two?

That’s the aim of an app developed by School of Environmental and Forest Sciences professor Josh Lawler and the University of Washington Information School.

Nature Collections provides a platform for children to build photo collections from what they see and encounter outdoors. Similar to popular apps like Pokemon Go and other games, it allows them to collect items and compete in scavenger hunts.

Lawler and iSchool professor Katie Davis first introduced their idea in 2016, when they won $400,000 in funding for the app from the UW Innovation Awards. After developing the app, testing with kids began, and the early results are promising.

Read the full story of the app and its reception published in Washington Trails magazine and posted on the iSchool’s website.

Winter 2019 SEFS Seminar Schedule

The new year is here, and along with it comes the 2019 winter quarter SEFS Seminar schedule. Each seminar is held at 3:30 p.m. on Wednesdays in the Forest Club Room of Anderson Hall. After each presentation, a reception and discussion time is held in the room. Please note some of the titles are pending and will be added at a later date.

Jan. 9Prospects for biodiversity and ecosystem services in coffee agroecosystems facing socio-ecological changes in southwest Ethiopia
Getachew Eshete, associate professor at Cascadia College

Jan. 16 Mid-rotation forest carbon credits: The low cost of emissions reduction plan that works immediately
Mike Warjone, vice president of operations, Port Blakely

Jan. 23 – How cold is it in the mountains? Temperatures, lapse rates 
and inversions from models, weather stations, sensors in trees and remote sensing
Jessica Lundquist, associate professor, civil and environmental engineering, UW

Jan. 30The role of people and climate in shaping vegetation and fire history
Cathy Whitlock, professor, Montana State University

Feb. 6Evaluating climate change & demographics dynamics: An analysis of natural disasters and population change
Sara Curran, professor, UW Sociology; Director, CSDE

Feb. 13Forest conservation and restoration in the Pacific Northwest
Ryan Haugo, The Nature Conservancy

Feb. 20The role of fire in Yosemite’s ecosystems
Jan van Wagtendonk, research scientist emeritus, Yosemite National Park

Feb. 27 – Socio-spatial approaches to understanding public use patterns in national forests and monuments
Lee Cerveny, research social scientist

March 6Quantifying the role that terrestrial ecosystems play in Earth’s climate
Abby Swann, associate professor, atmospheric sciences and biology, UW

March 13Wildlife conservation in a brighter and louder world
Neil Carter, assistant professor, Boise State University

SEFS Professor Represents Washington at ABLC Global Conference

Hisham El-Husseini, left, and Dr. Richard Gustafson stand together
at the ABLC Global Conference.

Dr. Richard Gustafson, professor at the School of Environmental and Forest Sciences, and Hisham El-Husseini, a graduate student in bioresource science and engineering, represented Washington at the Advanced Bioeconomy Leadership Conference (ABLC Global), a conference dedicated to the most important issues in the bioeconomy. The conference was held in San Francisco.

Attending ABLC Global provides an opportunity for students to learn from and network with industry professionals, as well as participate in leadership training sessions. Students took part in information sessions and industry panels that featured representatives from Aemetis, LanzaTech, Sierra Energy, POET, Impossible Foods, and many others.

SEFS Affiliate Professor Profiled in Article about Fuel Treatments

Growing up, SEFS affiliate professor Dr. Morris Johnson thought he might join the military or be a powerlifter.

“No one really talked about going to college,” he said. “The big push for us upon high school graduation, unless you were the one best basketball player who got a scholarship, was Army, Air Force, or Marines.”

Today, he is a fire ecologist for the U.S. Forest Service‘s Pacific Northwest Research Station and was profiled in a new article in the U.S. Forest Service’s Science Update Issue 25. The article looks at how fuel treatments change fire behavior and highlights Dr. Johnson’s work studying trees after large wildfires move through forests.

Read the full story here.

Doctoral Student Contributes to Carbon Storage Study

Earlier this month, Ecotrust, in partnership with the University of Washington, published “Tradeoffs in Timber, Carbon and Cash Flow under Alternative Management Systems for Douglas-Fir in the Pacific Northwest,” a peer-reviewed study that looks at the carbon storage in Washington and Oregon forests.

Among the researchers who authored this study is David Diaz, one of the School of Environmental and Forest Sciences’ doctoral students. In addition, Diaz is the director of forestry analytics and technology at Ecotrust.

The study analyzed the forests in Washington and Oregon because of their ability to store large quantities of carbon, an important part of fighting climate change. The results showed that having larger buffers along streams, keeping more live trees after a harvest and other actions involving carbon rotation can aid carbon storage.

Read more about the study and its results.

SEFS Alumni Alexander Friend Tapped to Lead Research at U.S. Forest Service

A School of Environmental and Forest Sciences alumnus Alexander Friend, PhD, was recently named deputy chief of research and development at the U.S. Forest Service (USFS).

He joins current U.S. Forest Service chief and SEFS alumna Vicki Christiansen on the USFS leadership team.

In this position, Friend will provide technical leadership in all phases of USFS research. His role includes formulating and executing policies and programs that advance the management and protection of forest resources. Research fields that USFS oversees involves forest soil and water, wildlife and fish habitat, forest recreation and management, insects and disease, timber management, forest economics and products, as well as marketing.

Friend received his doctorate from SEFS in 1988. He studied nitrogen stress and fine root growth of the Douglas fir.