Scientists Discover Forests That May Resist Climate Change

By Lauren Milideo
The University of Vermont
April 17, 2024
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US East

A new University of Vermont (UVM) study is flipping the script on what we know about forests and climate. The study, published in Ecology and Evolution, explores forests that experience “cold-air pooling,” a phenomenon where cold air at higher elevations drains down into lower-lying valleys, reversing the expected temperatures—warm at the bottom, cold at the top—that typically occurs in mountainous areas. That is, the air temperature drops with descent from mountain to valley. “With temperature inversions, we also see vegetation inversions,” says lead study author Melissa Pastore. “Instead of finding more cold-preferring species like spruce and fir at high elevations, we found them in lower elevations—just the opposite of what we expect.” “This cold-air pooling is fundamentally structuring the forest,” says study coauthor and UVM professor Carol Adair. This insight “can help …preserve cold-loving species as the climate warms,” says Adair.

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