You are here: Home / Research Topics / Research Highlights / Individual Highlight

Research Highlights

Individual Highlight

Reviewing the Impacts of Drought on Forests of the United States

Photo of Cumulative drought severity index (CDSI) for forested lands from 1987 to 2013. U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service.Cumulative drought severity index (CDSI) for forested lands from 1987 to 2013. U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service.Snapshot : Changing climate, especially increased temperatures and lower rainfall, and land management practices have the potential to dramatically influence forest conditions in the U.S. Forest Service scientists and their partners surveyed the technical literature to assemble hundreds of different studies and documented the implications of drought on forest dynamics, structure, diversity, and management options.

Principal Investigators(s) :
Bragg, Don C. 
Research Station : Southern Research Station (SRS)
Year : 2016
Highlight ID : 1091


Climate change is increasingly challenging scientists, managers, and policy makers across the globe. While many different elements are involved with changing climates, the combination of persistent, abnormally low precipitation across large areas, accentuated by increased temperatures, probably poses the biggest resource challenge. Drought has been linked to numerous events directly or indirectly responsible for some of the forest losses and ecosystem conversions in the U.S. Although the western U.S. has been most prominently affected in recent decades, all portions of the country are vulnerable to drought, and parts of the more mesic eastern U.S. may be particularly sensitive to the prolonged droughts possible under climate change. The multi-billion dollar timber and recreation industries are the most obviously affected sectors of the economy, but droughts that negatively impact forests also significantly impact other socioeconomic (e.g., water provisioning) and ecological (e.g., endangered species) concerns, making this a critical field of study.

Forest Service Partners

External Partners

  • Northern Research Station
  • Duke University
  • Harvard University
  • Northern Arizona University
  • Sarah Lawrence College
  • Swiss Federal Research Institute
  • U.S. Geological Survey
  • University of California Davis
  • University of California Santa Barbara
  • University of Michigan
  • University of Vermont

Program Areas