• Approximately 1,500 black bears live in the national park.

    Great Smoky Mountains

    National Park NC,TN

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Fire and climate research in the Smokies

 
Fire at Gregory Ridge.

What effect do fires have on the forest? University of Tennessee research asks that and many other fire history questions.

NPS photo.

Fire and climate research in the Smokies

Here’s what Dr. Henri Grissino-Mayer and Dr. Sally Horn, both professors in the Department of Geography at the University of Tennessee, have studied in the park with graduate students and other collaborators. Click on each study title to read about what scientific questions researchers asked, how they collected data in the park, and what discoveries they made as they pieced together the history of Smoky Mountain forests and fires.

1. Fire History and Age Structure of Table Mountain Pine (Pinus pungens) in the Southern Appalachian Mountains. M.S. Thesis. Michael Armbrister and Henri Grissino-Mayer, 2000–2002. You can read the whole thesis by clicking here (this will download a PDF from the University of Tennessee).

2. Dendrochronological investigation of Shortleaf pine (Pinus echinata Mill.) in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Lisa LaForest, Jessica Slayton, and Henri Grissino-Mayer, 2005–2006.

3. Climate Response of Shortleaf Pine Trees in Great Smoky Mountains. MS Thesis. Christine Biermann and Henri Grissino-Mayer. 2008-2009. You can read the whole thesis by clicking here (this will download a PDF from the University of Tennessee).

4. Fire Regimes of the Southern Appalachian Mountains. Lisa LaForest, Henri Grissino-Mayer, Chris Underwood from the University of Tennessee, and Charles Lafon and Will Flatley from Texas A & M University, 2007–2009.

5. Soil and Sedimentary Charcoal as Evidence of Fire History in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Sally Horn, Alisa Hass, Chris Underwood, and Matthew Valente, 2004-2009.

Return to Dispatches from the Field: Fire main page.

Did You Know?

Visitors can often spot bears in trees at the edges of forests.

Approximately 1,500 black bears live in the park. This equals a population density of approximately two bears per square mile. Bears can be found throughout the park, but are easiest to spot in open areas such as Cades Cove and Cataloochee Valley. More...