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Mon Apr 27, 2020, 08:35 AM

Study Scenario - Most Trees Alive Today Will Not Be Able To Survive In Climate Of 40 Years From Now

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The study, published April 17 in the journal Science, reviewed the last 10 years of research on tree mortality, concluding that forests are in big trouble if global warming continues at the present pace. Most trees alive today won't be able to survive in the climate expected in 40 years, Brodribb said. The negative impacts of warming and drying are already outpacing the fertilization benefits of increased carbon dioxide.

Trees and forests can be compared with corals and reefs, he said. Both are slow-growing and long-lived systems that can't easily move or adapt in a short time to rapid warming and both have relatively inflexible damage thresholds. For corals, a global tipping point was reached from 2014 to 2016. In record-warm oceans, reefs around the world bleached and died.

The detailed new information and modeling on how water stress kills trees suggests there is a similar drought threshold for tree mortality, beyond which forests could also perish on a global scale, he said. "Nobody predicted the coral bleaching scenario. If a similar thing evolves with forests, that is pretty catastrophic," he said. "We're at a point where we can see the process, we can predict it. It's time to start making some noise about it. We can't afford to sit on our hands."

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Breshears has used tree mortality data to try and make near real-time projections for tree die-offs in the Southwest. This would help adapt forest management, including firefighting, to rapidly changing conditions in a region where an emerging megadrought has already weakened and killed hundreds of millions of trees, including Rocky Mountain lodgepole and piņon pines, as well as aspens. Elsewhere, African cedars and acacias are dying, South America's Amazon rainforest is struggling, and junipers are declining in the Middle East. In Spain and Greece, global warming is shriveling oaks, and even in moist, temperate northern Europe, unusual droughts have stressed vast stands of beech forests.

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https://insideclimatenews.org/news/24042020/forest-trees-climate-change-deforestation

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