The Center for Forest Disturbance Science

The Center for Forest Disturbance Science is a research project of the U.S. Forest Service Southern Research Station focused on the study of disturbance processes across scales and their risk of occurrence in order to develop innovative management strategies for reducing vulnerability of ecosystems to degradation.

News & Events

  • Clemson Fire Tigers Read about Helen Mohr and the Clemson Fire Tigers. https://clemson.world/firetigers/
    Posted Jul 26, 2019, 7:08 AM by S.H. Mou
  • Predicting Fire Behavior with New 3D Fuel Models Predicting Fire Behavior with New 3D Fuel Models Land managers have a new tool in their firefighting arsenals that models forest fuels in three dimensions. These 3D fuel models developed ...
    Posted Jun 14, 2019, 6:18 AM by S.H. Mou
  • Weather Conditions Inform Timing of Prescribed Fire Model identifies conditions for smoke plume formation in the Southeast by Jennifer Moore Myers, SRS Science Communications  •  April 18, 2019 Prescribed fires generate smoke, which can harm human health – especially ...
    Posted Apr 22, 2019, 7:12 AM by S.H. Mou
  • Where to Grow Woody Bioenergy Crops? by Sarah Farmer, SRS Science Communications  •  June 21, 2018 Demand for bioenergy is expected to grow – as much as 10 times larger than present. Woody crops such as poplar or ...
    Posted Jul 3, 2018, 8:23 AM by S.H. Mou
  • 2018 ESRI Award for Best Scientific Paper in Geographic Information Systems Marcus and Dr. Marguerite Madden accepting the certificate.Marcus Williams, research meteorologist, and Christie Hawley, forest technician, with the Center For Forest Disturbance Science and their partners with the University ...
    Posted Mar 1, 2018, 6:36 AM by S.H. Mou
Showing posts 1 - 5 of 25. View more »


Why fire is good (But you still shouldn't start a forest fire) stars members of the Fire Science Team of the CFDS.

Atmospheric Science

Atmospheric Science

The Atmospheric Science Team studies atmospheric aspects of forest disturbance such as fire-atmosphere interactions, smoke management, climate change and wind damage to forests. 

Fire Science




The Fire Science Team specializes in studying fire behavior and ecology in the southeastern US and tropical and subtropical ecosystems.

Restoration & Invasive Species

Restoration & Invasive Species

The Restoration and Invasive Species Team focuses on management practices to restore fire dependent ecosystems of the southeastern U.S. We also study the impacts of non-native invasive species, and work to mitigate the risks associated with these organisms through development of new management practices.

Southern High Resolution Modeling Consortium

Southern High Resolution Modeling Consortium

Visit the Southern High Resolution Modeling Consortium's website at http://shrmc.ggy.uga.edu/index.php . The website provides forecasts and maps.

Recent Publications

  • The weather conditions for desired smoke plumes at a FASMEE burn site. Liu, Y.-Q., S Goodrick, G Achtemeier, 2018. Atmosphere, 9, 259.   0k - Apr 24, 2019, 5:00 AM by S.H. Mou (v1)
    ‎Weather is an important factor that determines smoke development, which is essential information for planning smoke field measurements. This study identifies the synoptic systems that would favor to produce the desired smoke plumes for the Fire and Smoke Model Evaluation Experiment (FASMEE). Daysmoke and PB-Piedmont (PB-P) models are used to simulate smoke plume evolution during the day time and smoke drainage and fog formation during the nighttime for hypothetical prescribed burns on February 5-8, 2011 at the Stewart Army Base in the southeastern United States. Daysmoke simulation is evaluated using the measured smoke plume heights of two historical prescribed burns at the Eglin Air Force Base. The simulation results of the hypothetical prescribed burns show that the smoke plume is not fully developed with low plume height during the daytime on February 5th when the burn site is under the warm, moist, and windy conditions connected to a shallow cyclonic system and a cold front. However, smoke drainage and fog are formed during the nighttime. Well-developed smoke plumes, which rise mainly vertically, extend to a majority portion of the planetary boundary layer, and have steady clear boundaries, appear on both February 6th and 7th when the air is cool but dry and calm during a transition between two low-pressure systems. The plume rises higher on the second day, mainly due to lighter winds. The smoke on February 8th shows a loose structure of large horizontal dispersion and low height after passage of a deep low-pressure system with strong cool and dry winds. Smoke drainage and fog formation are rare for the nights during February 5-8th. It is concluded that prescribed burns conducted during a period between two low-pressure systems would likely generate the desired plumes for FASMEE measurement during daytime. Meanwhile, as the fire smolders into the night, the burns would likely lead to fog formation when the burn site is located in the warm and moist section of a low-pressure system or a cold front.‎
  • Maximizing the monitoring of diversity for management activities: Additive partitioning of plant species diversity across a frequently burned ecosystem. Dell, Jane E.; Pokswinski, Scott M.; Richards, Lora A.; Hiers, J. Kevin; Williams, Brett; O’Brien, Joseph J.; Loudermilk, E. Louise; Hudak, Andrew T.; Dyer, Lee A. 2019. Forest Ecology and Management. 432: 409-414.   0k - Apr 24, 2019, 4:55 AM by S.H. Mou (v1)
    ‎Monitoring understory plant diversity is important, allowing managers to track current diversity status and trends both spatially and temporally at a landscape-scale. Improving precision in quantifying patterns in understory plant diversity improves efficiency in monitoring design and more accurate measures of success of management intervention over time. Patterns of species diversity are dependent upon the scale in which they are examined - an increase in small-scale diversity across a gradient can convert to a decrease in large-scale diversity across that same gradient. Using two extensive datasets including both mined historical data and supplemental experimental data, we performed an additive partitioning of plant diversity to elucidate the hierarchical spatial patterns of understory plant species richness, and independent measures of alpha and beta diversity in the species-rich longleaf pine ecosystem at Eglin Air Force Base in northwestern FL, USA. This analysis allowed us to identify the spatial scale that most effectively captures plant diversity to inform monitoring efforts by using measures of species turnover, specifically beta diversity. We found that while species richness and alpha diversity increased with spatial scale, beta diversity began to reach an asymptote at smaller (1m2) scales. Furthermore, we found the sampling effort at this 1m2 scale required as few as 60 plots to effectively estimate plant diversity within management blocks. While our results are attributable to Eglin AFB specifically, these scaling analyses can help to streamline monitoring efforts in other ecosystems that seek to elucidate the individual contributions of diversity components.‎
  • Williams, Marcus D.; Hawley, Christie M.S.; Madden, Marguerite; Shepherd, J. Marshall. 2017. Mapping the spatio-temporal evolution of irrigation in the Coastal Plain of Georgia, USA. Photogrammetric Engineering & Remote Sensing. 83(1): 57-67. 11 p. https://doi.org/10.14358/PERS.83.1.57   0k - Apr 24, 2019, 4:49 AM by S.H. Mou (v1)
    ‎This study maps the spatial and temporal evolution of acres irrigated in the Coastal Plain of Georgia over a 38 year period. The goal of this analysis is to create a time-series of irrigated areas in the Coastal Plain of Georgia at a sub-county level. From 1976 through 2013, Landsat images were obtained and sampled at four year intervals to manually detect Center-Pivot irrigation (CPI) systems in the analysis region. During the 38 year analysis period there was a 4,500 percent increase in CPI systems detected that corresponded to an approximate 2,000 percent increase in total acreage. The bulk of the total acreage irrigated is contained in southwest Georgia, as seven coun­ties in the region contained 38 percent of the total acreage irrigated in 2013. There was substantial growth throughout the entire Coastal Plain Region, but southwest Georgia was identified as the most heavily irrigated region of the state.‎
  • TransformationalRestoration.pdf   2420k - Mar 1, 2018, 7:26 AM by S.H. Mou (v1)
    ‎Transformational restoration can play a key role in adaptation to climate change but it is conceptually the most divergent from contemporary approaches favoring native species and natural disturbance regimes. Here, we review concepts of novelty in ecosystems with examples of emergent/neonative and designed novel ecosystems, with application to transformational restoration. ‎
  • B&B_ja_2017_obrien_001.pdf   340k - May 11, 2017, 11:08 AM by S.H. Mou (v1)
    ‎Highbush blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum L.) is an important crop grown throughout Florida. Currently, most blueberry growers use honey bees (Apis mellifera L.) to provide pollination services for highbush blueberries even though bumble bees (Bombus spp.) have been shown to be more efficient at pollinating blueberries on a per bee basis. In general, contribution of bumble bees to the pollination of commercial highbush blueberries in Florida is unknown. Herein, we determined if managed bumble bees could contribute to highbush blueberry pollination. There were four treatments in this study: two treatments of caged commercial bumble bee (Bombus impatiens Cresson) colonies (low and high weight hives), a treatment excluding all pollinators, and a final treatment which allowed allpollinators (managed and wild pollinators) in the area have access to the plot. All treatments were located within a highbush blueberry field containing two cultivars of blooming plants, ‘Emerald’ and ‘Millennia’, with each cage containing 16 mature blueberry plants. We gathered data on fruit set, berry weight, and number of seeds produced per berry. When pollinators were excluded, fruit set was significantly lower in both cultivars (<8%) compared to that in all of the other treatments (>58%). Berry weight was not significantly different among the treatments, and the number of seeds per berry did not show a clear response. This study emphasizes the importance of bumble bees as an effective pollinator of blueberries and the potential beneficial implications of the addition of bumble bees in commercial blueberry greenhouses or high tunnels.‎
  • Observations of energy transport and rate of spreads from low-intensity fires in longleaf pine habitat – RxCADRE 2012   0k - Jan 8, 2016, 6:05 AM by S.H. Mou (v1)
    ‎B. Butler, C. Teske, D. Jimenez, J. O'Brien, P. Sopko, C. Wold, M. Vosburgh, B. Hornsby and E. Loudermilk Measurements of fire intensity, flame geometry and rate of spread using several methods are compared. Measurement uncertainty and variability are explored.‎
  • Measurements, datasets and preliminary results from the RxCADRE project – 2008, 2011 and 2012   0k - Jan 8, 2016, 6:03 AM by S.H. Mou (v1)
    ‎Roger D. Ottmar, J. Kevin Hiers, Bret W. Butler, Craig B. Clements, Matthew B. Dickinson, Andrew T. Hudak, Joseph J. O'Brien, Brian E. Potter, Eric M. Rowell, Tara M. Strand and Thomas J. Zajkowski The Prescribed Fire Combustion and Atmospheric Dynamics Research Experiment (RxCADRE) provides integrated, quality-assured fuel, meteorology, fire behaviour, energy, smoke emissions and fire effect datasets to evaluate fire models and inform wildland fire combustion theory. This overview paper summarises the RxCADRE project and the nine companion papers associated with data collection.‎
  • Stanturf, John A.; Goodrick, Scott L.; Warren, Melvin L.; Charnley, Susan; Stegall, Christie M. 2015. Social vulnerability and Ebola virus disease in rural Liberia. PLOS ONE. 10(9): e0137208-. 14 p. 10.1371/journal.pone.0137208   0k - Sep 10, 2015, 5:42 AM by S.H. Mou (v1)
    ‎The Ebola virus disease (EVD) epidemic that has stricken thousands of people in the three West African countries of Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea highlights the lack of adaptive capacity in post-conflict countries. The scarcity of health services in particular renders these populations vulnerable to multiple interacting stressors including food insecurity, climate change, and the cascading effects of disease epidemics such as EVD. However, the spatial distribution of vulnerable rural populations and the individual stressors contributing to their vulnerability are unknown. We developed a Social Vulnerability Classification using census indicators and mapped it at the district scale for Liberia. According to the Classification, we estimate that districts having the highest social vulnerability lie in the north and west of Liberia in Lofa, Bong, Grand Cape Mount, and Bomi Counties. Three of these counties together with the capital Monrovia and surrounding Montserrado and Margibi counties experienced the highest levels of EVD infections in Liberia. Vulnerability has multiple dimensions and a classification developed from multiple variables provides a more holistic view of vulnerability than single indicators such as food insecurity or scarcity of health care facilities. Few rural Liberians are food secure and many cannot reach a medical clinic in <80 minutes. Our results illustrate how census and household survey data, when displayed spatially at a subcounty level, may help highlight the location of the most vulnerable households and populations. Our results can be used to identify vulnerability hotspots where development strategies and allocation of resources to address the underlying causes of vulnerability in Liberia may be warranted. We demonstrate how social vulnerability index approaches can be applied in the context of disease outbreaks, and our methods are relevant elsewhere.‎
  • 6. Waldrop, Thomas A., ed. 2104. Proceedings: Wildland fire in the Appalachians: discussions among fire managers and scientists. Gen. Tech. Rep. SRS-199. Asheville, NC: U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service, Southern Research Station. 206 p.   0k - Aug 18, 2015, 9:14 AM by S.H. Mou (v1)
    ‎Many challenges face fire managers and scientists in the Appalachian Mountains because of the region’s diverse topography and limited research supporting prescribed burning. This conference was designed to promote communication among managers, researchers, and other interested parties. These proceedings contain 30 papers and abstracts that describe ongoing research, successful technology transfer, and management tools for planning prescribed fires. Five categories of papers include ecology of plants and plant communities, wildlife ecology, fire history and fire effects, tools for forest management, and manager-scientist success stories. ‎
  • PredictingFire24_380-390.pdf   946k - Aug 18, 2015, 9:03 AM by S.H. Mou (v1)
    ‎Yang, J., Weisberg, P.J., Dilts, T., Loudermilk, E.L., Scheller, R.M., Stanton, A., Skinner, C. 2015. Predicting wildfire occurrence distribution with spatial point process models and its uncertainty assessment: A case study in the Lake Tahoe Basin, USA. International Journal of Wildland Fire. 24: 380-390.‎
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