Geography professor Erica Smithwick to speak at next coffee hour

University Park, Pa. -- Penn State geography professor Erica Smithwick will talk about the consequences of fire on carbon storage and nutrient cycling during her Coffee Hour lecture at 4 p.m. Friday, April 10, in 112 Walker, University Park.

Her talk, titled "Influence of Disturbance and pattern on landscape C storage: Consequences for ecosystem models," will use Yellowstone National Park as a landscape template for understanding those consequences. Smithwick said that since the extensive fires of 1988, much has been learned about how fire creates spatial patterns in post-fire tree density and resultant ecosystem processes.

"Subsequent modeling and field work has indicated that this post-fire heterogeneity in post-fire recovery and nitrogen cycling can lead to net either positive or negative carbon flux," she said. "Ecosystem models that are unable to account for this heterogeneity are unlikely to be able to accurately project the role of forests as future carbon sinks."

The talk will be webcast live at For those who cannot view it live, the Web cast will be archived at the same link for later viewing.

Coffee Hour is the Department of Geography's weekly colloquium series. All are invited each Friday at 4 p.m. in 112 for the talk. Refreshments are served at 3:30 p.m. in 319 Walker.

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Last Updated January 09, 2015