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Why Ice Storms Aren’t Cool

Wed Dec 7th, 2016

Dy Lindsey Rustad gathers information on the effect of ice storms in a northeastern hardwood forest

 On Friday, December 9 at 7:00 p.m.  U.S. Forest Service scientist Dr. Lindsey Rustad will give a special lecture on the ecology of ice storms.   
According to the New York Times, “climate change will lead to an increase in big storms” perhaps five times as often with 70 percent more precipitation.  In winter some of these might take the form of  ice storms which are already on the rise in the northeastern U.S. due to climate change.  

Such storms cause untold damage to damage to roads, houses, and other infrastructure.  The Cary Institute says that such storms also “leave a legacy of impacts on forest ecosystems, altering everything from the composition of trees to water quality” to habitat for wild creatures. Until recently research on ice storms has been limited because researchers have been unable to predict when and where they will occur next. 

Now Lindsey Rustad has led the first study of its kind to simulate large ice storms.  At a research forest at Hubbard Brook in New Hampshire’s White Mountains, Rustad and her team of scientists (Cary Senior Research Fellow Peter Groffman was part of the team) have managed to create ice storms of different intensities and frequencies. 

When temperatures went below freezing, the scientists used firefighting hoses to spray eight plots each the size of a basketball court with a fine mist to create the effect of an ice storm. They were then able to gather information about both the short and long-term effects of ice storms on our northeastern hardwood forests. 

The lecture will take place in the Cary Institute auditorium located at 2801 Sharon Turnpike, Millbrook, NY. Doors open at 6:30 pm, seating is first come first served.