Articles (in reverse chronological order)

The WNC Mounds and Towns project

Western North Carolina is home to a long and rich history of human settlement, including Native American populations that thrived in the area before settlement by European and American farmers. Driving along Highway 441 from Dillard, Georgia, to Dillsboro, North Carolina, you follow the same route through the Cherokee Middle Towns that the English naturalist William Bartram took on the eve of the American Revolution.

Coweeta LTER partners with local teachers

This summer, three local teachers got the unique opportunity to participate in and document research being conducted at the Coweeta Hydrologic Laboratory, thanks to a Research Experience for Teachers (RET) grant from the National Science Foundation and support from the Coweeta Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) program.

What are all those UGA trucks doing on the side of the road?

During one of the Coweeta Listening Project’s first community discussions with the Cowee Community Club, someone asked, “What the heck are you doing out in the streams and why are your trucks always parked on the side of the road?” To answer that question, we asked University of Georgia geography professor David Leigh to share his experiences of working with the Coweeta Long- Term Ecological Research Program (LTER) for more than a decade.

Slope mapping, LiDAR data, and Macon County

In light of recent community discussions about regulating development on steep slopes, it is worth mentioning that Coweeta LTER researchers have increasingly begun to consider the scientific importance of landslides. Some of the recent debates about landslides and slope topography have related to the North Carolina Geological Survey’s (NCGS) maps. Many map-related technical questions have been raised in this newspaper, at planning meetings and elsewhere.

The Southern Appalachian 'Ring of Asphalt' and climate change?

The built environment represents one mechanism by which anthropogenic (human-induced) activities alter the Earth. Over the past few decades, interest in the feedbacks between human activity and climate has been focused on global and hemispheric scales. Recently, researchers at the University of Georgia associated with the Coweeta LTER  have investigated how different climate change scenarios will affect counties in the southeastern United States.

The science of steep slope movements

The topic of a proposed Steep Slope Ordinance for Macon County has been in this paper often recently. While these ordinances are common in other parts of the US, the articles reveal a number of important questions that the people of Macon County are asking such as: “Why do we need this ordinance?” “How does development cause landslides?” “Who does this ordinance really serve?” In this column, we hope that we can offer some basic science about landslides to help inform residents of Macon County about the ecological science related to these questions.

The importance of riparian land use decisions

This article is a continuation of our last article that focused on the important functions of riparian vegetation for streams and rivers throughout Southern Appalachia, such as filtering sediment, providing shade, removing excess nitrogen, helping prevent erosion, and providing habitat for aquatic animals.

The importance of riparian vegetation

Do you remember the moment when you caught your first fish? Perhaps you were standing knee deep in a river, but more likely you were standing on the bank, your feet rubbing against the short grass, your toes comfortably rubbing the stubby vegetation. Well, for scientists studying river banks, that stubby vegetation is called “riparian.”

Ozone and Air Quality in the Southern Appalachians

(Editor’s note: The last column in this series began a discussion on air pollution  in the mountains.)  

The National Park Service reports that  the Great Smoky Mountains National Park  has some of the worst air quality of any of  the parks that they monitor. Several different  types of pollutants contribute to this  poor air quality, including acidic deposition  of sulfur and nitrogen, ozone, and haze  causing particles; this column will focus specifically on ozone. 

Acid Rain and Air Quality in the Appalachians

Air pollution in the mountains can generally  be grouped into three categories: nitrogen  and sulfur, ozone, and haze. These  pollutants can contribute to a long list of  problems including but not limited to damage  to vegetation, acidification of streams,  and damage to human health. The next two  columns will explore the different airborne  pollutants and their effects on the local  ecosystem, beginning with sulfur and nitrogen  deposition.