Early Warning Signals of Drought

Submitted by firelab on Tue, 03/22/2022 - 09:23

In recent decades, increasing temperatures and decreasing rainfall have left their mark on the health of forests in the western United States. Emerging research reveals potential early warning signs for drought-related mortality in the ponderosa pines forests of the southern Sierra Nevada Mountains. FWE Research Entomologist Barbara Bentz, FFS Ecologist Charlotte Reed, and FFS Research Ecologist Sharon Hood coauthored “Changes in Tree Drought Sensitivity Provided Early Warning Signals to the California Drought and Forest Mortality Event,” a new study that retroactively examines forest conditions preceding the 2012-2015 California drought. The study found that the forest has grown increasingly sensitive to drought over the past five decades, which indicates an increased likelihood that the effects of drought may cause widespread forest mortality. The study’s findings could help land managers identify at-risk forests sooner and so that resources can be allocated to the regions where they are most needed to prevent widespread forest death due to drought.