On Underestimation of Global Vulnerability to Tree Mortality and Forest Die-off from Hotter Drought in the Anthropocene

Ecosphere (2015 v6 article 129) / by Craig D. Allen, David D. Breshears and Nate G. McDowell

[USGS Press Release] Forests worldwide are vulnerable to growing risks of drought- and heat-induced tree mortality and forest die-off because of a rapidly warming Earth, according to just-published research in the scientific journal Ecosphere. The paper is an invited “ESA Centennial Paper” to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Ecological Society of America.

Researchers from the USGS, University of Arizona, and Los Alamos National Laboratory assessed more than 400 research studies on forest mortality to help answer the question about whether forests will be more or less vulnerable to projected climate change in the future, a subject of significant scientific debate.

Their in-depth assessment of diverse results from observational, experimental and modeling studies concludes that forest die-off events to date represent only the beginning of an increasing phenomenon of such mortality episodes. These tree mortality events will result primarily because of the combination of droughts with warmer temperatures due to projected climate change…


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