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

Southeast CSC

Shrew response to variable woody debris retention: Implications for sustainable forest bioenergy

Fritts, S.R., Moorman, C.E., Grodsky, S.M., Hazel, D.W., Homyack, J.A., Farrell, C.B. & Castleberry, S.B.

2014 | Forest Ecology and Management

Shrews are integral components of forest food webs and may rely on downed woody debris to provide microhabitats that satisfy high moisture and metabolic requirements. However, woody biomass harvests glean downed woody debris to use as a bioenergy feedstock. Biomass Harvesting Guidelines (BHGs) provide guidance on the amount and distribution of downed woody debris retained after harvest to ensure ecological sustainability of woody biomass harvesting and limit detrimental effects on wildlife. However, the success of Biomass Harvesting Guidelines at reaching sustainability goals, including conservation of wildlife habitat, has not been tested in an operational setting.

Global biogeographic regions in a human-dominated world: The case of human diseases

Just, M.G., Norton, J.F., Traud, A.L., Poteate, A.S., Backus, G.A., Snyder-Beattie, A., Sanders, R.W. & Dunn, R.R.

2014 | Ecosphere

Since the work of Alfred Russel Wallace, biologists have sought to divide the world into biogeographic regions that reflect the history of continents and evolution. These divisions not only guide conservation efforts, but are also the fundamental reference point for understanding the distribution of life. However, the biogeography of human-associated species—such as pathogens, crops, or even house guests—has been largely ignored or discounted. As pathogens have the potential for direct consequences on the lives of humans, domestic animals, and wildlife it is prudent to examine their potential biogeographic history.

South Central CSC

The development of seasonal climate forecasting for agricultural producers

Klemm, T., & McPherson, R.A.

2017 | Agricultural and Forest Meteorology

This review summarizes advances in seasonal climate forecasting with a focus on agriculture, predominantly since the year 2000. The main research methods used were keyword searches in publisher-unaffiliated databases such as Web of Knowledge and in publication libraries of institutions known for their interdisciplinary work in climate forecasting and agriculture. Crop and livestock producers use seasonal climate forecasts for management decisions such as planting and harvest timing, field fertilization, or grazing. Agricultural users have often criticized lack of forecast skill and usability as well as a lack of understanding of user needs among forecast developers. Recently, interdisciplinary studies started exploring agricultural decision-making and integrating social science and climate science in order to improve the value of seasonal forecasts. Producer requests include direct and derived forecast products, such as total rainfall and consecutive dry days, information on uncertainty, and comparisons to previous years. The review explores single-model and ensemble forecasts, describes different measures of forecast value, and highlights economic and other agricultural decision factors besides weather and climate. It also examines seasonal climate forecasts from an agricultural perspective, explores communication challenges and how to overcome them, and delves into end-to-end forecast concepts that span forecast production to forecast application by end users.

Willingness to pay for ecosystem services among stakeholder groups in a south-central U.S. watershed with regional conflict

Castro, A.J., Vaughn, C.C., García-Llorente, M., Julian, J.P. & Atkinson, C.L.

2016 | Journal of Water Resources Planning and Management
Ecosystem services valuation has become a popular approach to weighing trade-offs in environmental management, particularly where natural resources such as freshwater are limited. The authors assessed multiple stakeholders’ social perception regarding a suite of ecosystem services in a south-central U.S. watershed that is water stressed and experiencing intense sociopolitical conflict.

Importance of forestry practices relative to microhabitat and microclimate changes for juvenile pond-breeding amphibians

Earl, J.E. & Semlitsch, R.D.

2016 | Forest Ecology and Management

Balancing the goals of forest management and species conservation is a major challenge. Forestry practices could be refined with greater understanding of the importance of large-scale forestry practices versus smaller-scale microhabitat and microclimate variables in driving demographic vital rates for species of conservation concern.

Water balance-based actual evapotranspiration reconstruction from ground and satellite observations over the conterminous United States

Wan, Z. et al.

2015 | Water Resources Research

The objective of this study is to produce an observationally based monthly evapotranspiration (ET) product using the simple water balance equation across the conterminous United States (CONUS). We adopted the best quality ground and satellite-based observations of the water budget components, i.e., precipitation, runoff, and water storage change, while ET is computed as the residual.

Pacific Islands CSC

Spatial trend analysis of Hawaiian rainfall from 1920 to 2012

Frazier, A.G. and Giambelluca, T.W.

2017 | International Journal of Climatology

Spatial patterns of rainfall in Hawai‘i are among the most diverse in the world. Utilizing a high-resolution gridded data set of monthly and annual rainfall for Hawai‘i from 1920 to 2012, seasonal and annual trends were calculated for every 250-m pixel across the state and mapped to produce spatially continuous trend maps. To assess the stability of these trends, a running trend analysis was performed. The results show widespread drying across the state, and reveal the spatial patterns and timing of upward and downward trends.

An assessment of diurnal and seasonal cloud cover changes over the Hawaiian Islands using Terra and Aqua MODIS

Barnes, M.L., Miura, T., & Giambelluca, T.W.

2016 | Journal of Climate
January, April, July, and October clear sky frequency

Knowledge of cloud cover frequency is essential for climate studies because large-scale cloud cover changes and associated feedback on the surface energy budget could amplify or reduce the warming effects of atmospheric greenhouse gases. In this study, we developed a comprehensive understanding of the spatial, seasonal, and diurnal patterns in cloud cover frequency over the Hawaiian Islands using remotely sensed satellite data. The monthly time series produced in this study is the first high-spatial resolution cloud cover dataset in Hawaii.

Change in trade wind inversion frequency implicated in the decline of an alpine plant

Krushelnycky, P.D. et al, including Frazier, A.G.

2016 | Climate Change Responses
The threatened Haleakalā silversword

The threatened Haleakalā silversword is endemic to high elevations on Haleakalā volcano on the Island of Maui, and is one of Hawaiʻi’s most recognizable species. Silversword population, which is strongly positively correlated with rainfall, is estimated to have declined approximately 60% since the early 1990s. The reversal in the silversword population trajectory and declines in rainfall in silversword habitat coincide with an abrupt increase in the frequency of occurrence of the trade wind inversion (TWI) in Hawaiʻi around 1990.

Annual rings in a native Hawaiian tree, Sophora chrysophylla, on Maunakea, Hawai'i

2015 | Journal of Tropical Ecology

Annual rings are not commonly produced in tropical trees because they grow in a relatively aseasonal environment. However, in the subalpine zones of Hawai'i's highest volcanoes, there is often strong seasonal variability in temperature and rainfall. Using classical dendrochronological methods, annual growth rings were shown to occur in Sophora chrysophylla, a native tree species on Maunakea, Hawai'i.