Visualizations and Data Dashboard for the Northern Forest Futures Project

by

J. R. Lootens-White, P. D. Miles, S. R. Shifley, D. M. May

Northern Research Station, USDA Forest Service, jlootenswhite@fs.fed.us

Abstract – The Northern Forest Futures Project is a multi-year research effort that focuses on anticipated changes to northern forests - those in the 20 Northeastern and Midwestern states, from Maine to Minnesota, and from Missouri to Maryland, between 2010 and 2060. The initial phase of the project was to describe the current conditions of these forests, in a Forest Service General Technical Report (GTR), Forests of the Northern United States. Paired with this GTR, was an interactive website that describes forest conditions in each of the 20 states, available at http://www.nrs.fs.fed.us/futures/. The second phase of the “Futures” project presents possible future outcomes, based on various climactic, economic, and population “scenarios. This follow-up GTR, Future Forests of the Northern United States paper describes the methodology, results, drivers and effects of the potential future outcome of Northern Forests. Scientific projections that involve uncertainty can be difficult communicate, but the use of visualizations has been shown to improve understanding. This paper describes the tools and visualizations used to communicate these findings. These tools allow users to compare various future scenarios across time and geography, from the initial, to the simulated, possible future conditions.