Surviving a drought may help forests weather future dry spells

Friday, June 9, 2023 - 08:13 in Earth & Climate

Some forests take one-two punches surprisingly well. Researchers have shown that certain California forests exposed to two successive droughts weathered the second one much better than forests only hit by the later dry period. Given that the frequency and severity of droughts is increasing with climate change (SN: 3/10/22), the findings suggest that forested regions might fare better than predicted in the future, the research team proposes in the May 17 AGU Advances. That’s important because of the many resources that forests provide, including their ability to sequester about a quarter of the carbon dioxide that humans put into the atmosphere every year. Carl Norlen and Mike Goulden, ecologists at the University of California, Irvine, studied roughly 520,000 hectares of California forest (about 4 percent of the state’s forested areas). The researchers focused on conifers, trees such as pines and firs that have needles rather than flat leaves. Using archival data gleaned...

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