Forest can adapt to climate change, but not quickly enough

By Harrison Tasoff
The University of California Santa Barbara Current
July 10, 2023
Category: Carbon, Climate & Bioenergy
Region: United States, US West

America’s forests have a tough time in store for them. Climate change is increasing temperatures and decreasing moisture levels across the country, not a winning combination for trees. Researchers at UC Santa Barbara and University of Utah sought to determine how our sylvan ecosystems might fare in the near future. …Their findings suggest that, while most forests have the potential to adapt to hotter, dryer conditions, they aren’t changing quickly enough to avoid the impending stress. The study, published in Global Change Biology, serves as a benchmark for future forest research. …The researchers found that many of America’s forests have the capacity to adapt. The model revealed that 88% of the forests across the continental U.S. have the trait and species diversity to acclimate to climate change, and they are starting to. However, most weren’t adapting as quickly as the model predicted was necessary to avoid increased water stress and subsequent mortality.

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