An Ice Storm Manipulation Experiment in a Northern Hardwood Forest

Ice storms are extreme winter weather events that affect people and forests around the world. In the northeastern U.S., where icing is common, major ice storms have the potential to reshape our forest ecosystems and the ecological attributes we rely on, including clean water, wood products, carbon storage, and natural areas for recreation and scenic beauty. Scientists from the Hubbard Brook Ecosystem Study set out to understand more about how forests of the Northeast respond to and recover from ice storms. As extreme weather increasingly becomes a hallmark of climate change, their research provides important insights for future forest management and storm response.

The Ice Storm Experiment project at Hubbard Brook involved three main efforts: (1) the first-ever experimental ice storms, conducted within controlled plots at a research forest, to understand and quantify the effects of different amounts of icing on hardwood forests; (2) synthesis of research related to the 1998 ice storm in New England to understand the long-term impacts of ice storms on forests; and (3) climate modeling to understand the frequency and intensity of ice storms under possible future climate change scenarios. Download a Research Brief summarizing highlights from this research.


About the Project and Team

Funding for this research was provided by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. DEB-1457675. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

Principal Investigators: Charles Driscoll, Syracuse University; Lindsey Rustad, US Forest Service; John Campbell, US Forest Service; Paul Schaberg, US Forest Service; Katharine Hayhoe, Texas Tech University; Sarah Garlick, Hubbard Brook Research Foundation.

Research Partners: Peter Groffman, City University of New York and Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies; Timothy Fahey, Cornell University; Robert Stanford, University of Southern Maine

Field Crew: Ian Halm, Frank Bowles, Geoff Schwaner, Gabe Winant, Brendan Leonardi, and many others!

Photography: Joe Klementovich


Swaminathan R, Sridharan M, Hayhoe K. A Computational Framework for Modelling and Analyzing Ice Storms. arXiv e-prints [Internet]. 2018 May 01, 2018. Available from:

Fahey RT, Atkins JW, Campbell JL, Rustad LE, Duffy M, Driscoll CT, et al. Effects of an experimental ice storm on forest canopy structure. Canadian Journal of Forest Research. 2019:136-45. doi: 10.1139/cjfr-2019-0276.

Weitzman JN, Groffman PM, Campbell JL, Driscoll CT, Fahey RT, Fahey TJ, et al. Ecosystem Nitrogen Response to a Simulated Ice Storm in a Northern Hardwood Forest. Ecosystems. 2019. doi: 10.1007/s10021-019-00463-w.

Rustad LE, Campbell JL. A novel ice storm manipulation experiment in a northern hardwood forest. Canadian Journal of Forest Research. 2012;42(10):1810-8. doi: 10.1139/x2012-120.