Drought-induced changes in forest composition amplify effects of climate change

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Gawdzilla Sama
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Drought-induced changes in forest composition amplify effects of climate change

Post by Gawdzilla Sama » Fri Mar 23, 2018 9:53 am

Drought-induced changes in forest compo ... ate change

Date: March 21, 2018

Source: University of Florida

Summary: The face of American forests is changing, due to climate change-induced shifts in rainfall and temperature that are causing shifts in the abundance of numerous tree species, according to a new article. The result means some forests in the eastern U.S. are already starting to look different, but more important, it means the ability of those forests to soak up carbon is being altered as well, which could in turn bring about further climate change.
The face of American forests is changing, thanks to climate change-induced shifts in rainfall and temperature that are causing shifts in the abundance of numerous tree species, according to a new paper by University of Florida researchers.

The result means some forests in the eastern U.S. are already starting to look different, but more important, it means the ability of those forests to soak up carbon is being altered as well, which could in turn bring about further climate change.

"Although climate change has been less dramatic in the eastern U.S. compared to some other regions, such as Alaska and the southwestern U.S., we were interested to see if there were signals in forest inventory data that might indicate climate-induced changes in eastern U.S. forests," said Jeremy Lichstein, senior author and a UF assistant professor of biology. "The changes we documented are easily masked by other disturbances, which is probably why no one had previously documented them. Without a long-term dataset with millions of trees, we probably could not have detected these changes."

The study appears today in the journal Nature.

Lichstein and his team based their findings on systematic forest inventories of trees in the eastern U.S. from the 1980s to the 2000s. The team looked specifically at forest biomass, tree species composition, and climate variability. The researchers found that decades of changes in water deficit have reduced forest biomass, causing an influx of trees that are more tolerant to drought but slower growing. This shift results in significant changes in forest species composition with their accompanying ecological effects and, moreover, affects the capacity of forest biomass (the mass of living trees) to store carbon. Healthy forests play a key role in global ecosystems as they contain much of the terrestrial biodiversity on the planet and act as a net sink for capturing atmospheric carbon. As climate change affects the forests, so do the forests affect climate change.
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Re: Drought-induced changes in forest composition amplify effects of climate change

Post by Mara » Mon Apr 09, 2018 7:27 am