Katie Murenbeeld – Dissertation Proposal

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Title: Deviating from the Plan: Assessing the Impact of Forest Management Implementation Time Lags on Forest Vulnerability and Water Yields

Abstract: Environmental policy in the United States experienced a period of rapid change in the 1970s with the passage of several key environmental laws. These policies and laws inform forest management, which directly impacts the structure and function of forest ecosystems with potential implications for regional and global climate. Policies impact when specific management activities are implemented by influencing the economic resources available to forest managers. The resulting time lags between the planned and actual completion date control forest structure which can broadly impact land-atmosphere interactions, water cycling, carbon cycling, and forest vulnerability to disturbances. Vegetation models currently used by federal and state natural resource agencies represent management activities, yet climate and land-atmosphere interactions are not as well represented. Meanwhile, land-atmosphere interactions are well developed within land surface models, yet land management representation is over simplified. In both types of models, the policy dynamics driving management implementation are rarely considered. In this research, I propose to use the Punctuated Equilibrium Theory (PET) policy framework, as a new approach to integrating policy dynamics and forest management into the Community Land Model (CLM). The PET will be used as a general framework to analyze U.S. Forest Service timber harvest data. It will also be used to identify potential policy punctuations, in the form of environmental laws, to serve as reference points to compare time lag lengths before and after law enactment. Outputs from the timber harvest data study will inform model parameterization and management scenarios using the new selective logging module within CLM. The modeled forest density, size and age class distributions, and water yield will be compared across scenarios to determine how management time lags impact water availability and associated forest structure and vulnerability to natural disturbances. This work will provide insight into the cascading impacts of policy dynamics on management, forest structure, and ecosystem functioning. Additionally, this research contributes to a greater effort to better incorporate management activities into land surface models.

Where: RUCH 110
When: Friday, Nov 15th
Time: 1:00pm
Directions: Map