Photo of Steve Norman

Steve Norman

Research Ecologist
200 W.T. Weaver Blvd
Asheville, NC 28804-3454
Phone: 828-259-0535

Current Research

Forest monitoring is critical for effective decisionmaking, yet our understanding of impacts, trends and where things are headed is often insufficient for societal needs. This scientist's current research emphasizes monitoring at the landscape scale using diverse remote sensing approaches. He is a team member of the USDA Forest Service's ForWarn system which tracks forest change across the Conterminous US using MODIS imagery at near-real-time, and he also works to understand the longer-term change in forests using historical MODIS datasets. This high frequency, but coarse resolution data are adept at tracking land surface phenology and how it changes with seasonal climate variation, disturbances, such as fire, drought, insect defoliation, hail or wind damage. He tracks the initial disturbance impacts and longer-term responses. These are both important as many disturbances are ephemeral while others have more substantial impacts that last the growing season or longer. These monitoring data also permit monitors to systematically track recovery after disturbance including the cumulative effects of multiple disturbances. Understanding disturbance-recovery dynamics as well as multiple disturbances provides researchers and forest managers with the ability to describe and even track resilience at landscape scales.

The scientist's research also includes understanding the landscape tradeoffs associated with wildland fire and how this intersects with planning and policy issues. He was part of the National Cohesive Wildland Fire Management Strategy Science Team and he continues to pursue lines of research that relate to fire's broad scale occurrence and its landscape impacts or risks.

Research Interests

Comparative risk assessment
Baysian modeling
Remote sensing
Forest monitoring
Wildland fire effects
Fire regime characterization
Fire monitoring
Fire tradeoffs
Fire hydrology
Fire phenology
Firefighter safety
Vegetation dynamics
Disturbance recovery
Vegetation gradients
Southern Appalachians
Coast redwood forests
Hemlock forests
Northern hardwoods forests
Coastal Plain wetlands

Past Research

Historical fire regimes of Lassen National Forest, CA
Fire-climate relationships in northeastern California
Coast redwood fire ecology


Ph.D. in Geography, 2002
The Pennsylvania State University
M.A. in Geography, 1991
Western Illinois University
B.A. in Geography-Environmental Science, 1987
Mansfield University of PA

Professional Organizations

  • American Geophysical Union, (—)
  • Association for Fire Ecology, (—)
  • International Association for Landscape Ecology, (—)

Featured Publications and Products


Research Highlights

Improving Hurricane Damage Assessments with New Satellite Technology and Outreach (2019)
SRS-2019-37 Recent advances in satellite technology and collaborative exchange between USDA Forest Service researchers and state forestry agencies have given forest managers greatly improved insights into hurricane damage.

Research Review Reveals Limitations to Drought Impact Monitoring (2016)
SRS-2016-190 A recently published review of drought monitoring discusses the fundamental challenges of detecting and monitoring drought impacts at broad scales, describes strengths and weaknesses of existing approaches for doing so, and presents methods for combining these approaches with supporting datasets to assess drought impacts across landscapes.

advancing the Comparative Risk Assessment Framework and Tools (CRAFT) (2011)
SRS-2011-12 The Eastern Forest Environmental Threat Assessment Center and the University of North Carolina Asheville's National Environmental Modeling and Analysis Center have expanded an integrated risk assessment framework that will help natural resource managers compare the effects of different decisions, despite uncertainties. This collaboration is focused on advancing the Comparative Risk Assessment Framework and Tools (CRAFT) through development of on-line tools and applied workshops.

R&D Affiliations
Research Topics
Priority Areas
SRS Science Area
Experimental Forests and Ranges
External Resources