Are there Drought Effects on Carbon Cycling?

Published September 3, 2015
 Research

Forests store nearly half of the carbon found in land-based ecosystems. But what are the fate of forests under increasingly extreme climate changes? The answer to this question is important to better understand and predict carbon cycle feedbacks to climate change.

Anderegg et al. examined the recovery of stem growth in trees after severe drought at 1338 forest sites across the globe. They found that forests exhibit a drought legacy effect of reduced growth and incomplete recovery for 1 to 4 years after severe drought. The study found that forests will be less able to act as a sink for carbon during this period of delayed growth.

These new insights can be used to make more accurate predictions of the effects of drought on the global carbon cycle.

Source:

Anderegg et al. (2015). Pervasive drought legacies in forest ecosystems and their implications for carbon cycle models. SCIENCE. Volume 349, Issue 6247, p. 528.

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