Case Studies

The storage of carbon in forested landscapes—in the form of plant and soil biomass—is a crucial component of forest ecosystem functioning, and a key tool for climate change mitigation. Net carbon storage has increased over recent decades in many eastern North American regions as forests have matured and increased in extent. However, the rate of this increase is declining as the dynamics of these processes change with changing land use patterns. LanDAT helps us understand the geography, timing, and causes of these changes.

Across the Southern Appalachian Mountains, Eastern Hemlock (Tsuga canadensis) has long played an important ecological role. These large forest trees are evergreen, providing year-round cover for wildlife and cooling the riparian (streamside) areas where they tend to grow. Since the mid 2000s, this species has been in rapid decline due to a lethal non-native insect pathogen, and the results have transformed Southern Appalachian forests. LanDAT can help us measure the severity of these impacts relative to other kinds of landscape change in the region.