Ecoclimate Lab

New Lab paper by Elizabeth Garcia on climate impacts of forest die-off


A new lab paper led by postdoc Elizabeth Garcia is out now in PLOS one.

In the paper we quantify how forest die-off events can impact climate across the globe, and how this has consequences for distant ecosystems.  We looked at forest die off in North America, as well as in the Amazon forest in a coupled land-atmosphere-slab ocean climate model.

Here are our main take-home points.

  1. When trees die in one place, it can be good or bad for plants elsewhere, depending on where you are, because tree-caused changes in climate in one place can ricochet to changes in climate in another place.
  2. 1 + 1 does not equal 2: If tree die-offs occur in two different places at the same time, they cause surprising impacts to plants elsewhere in ways that you can’t predict if you only look at the two die-offs separately. (If we look under the hood of these predictions, we can also see the differing causes for the ways plants in different locations respond.)
  3. If we continue to lose lots of trees in different places, such as the current large tree die-off in California or ongoing deforestation in the Amazon, plants in other places will also be affected – and in some places ambushed – from ricocheting climate effects.

You can find the paper with free open access on the PLOS one website.

Media Coverage

Local forest die-offs could have global consequences, study shows | The Oregonian

If a forest dies, can the other side of the world can feel it? You bet |

If Trees Die in the U.S., Do South America and Siberia Feel It? | Pacific Standard

Study points to El Niño-like global connections between forests | Mongabay

102 Million Trees Have Died in California’s Drought | Ecowatch

An ‘Unprecedented’ 102 Million Trees Have Died In California’s Drought-Stricken Forests | Huffington Post

Science in short: The El Niño of land surface | UW Daily

Large forest die-offs can have effects that ricochet to distant ecosystems | UW News 

Video by UW News

Forest die-offs ricochet to distant ecosystems | NSF – National Science Foundation



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