Empirical and process-based approaches to climate-induced forest mortality models
Globally, forests store ~45% of carbon sequestered terrestrially, contribute more to the terrestrial sink per area than any other land cover type, and assimilate an important portion of anthropogenic emissions. Forests exert strong biophysical control on climate via surface energy balance, and the hydrological cycle. Widespread forest mortality in response to drought, increased temperatures, and infestation of tree pests has been observed globally, potentially threatening forests' regulation of climate. This threat has prompted great interest in understanding and predicting tree mortality due to climate variability and change, especially drought. Initial tests of hydraulic failure (mortality caused by irreversible loss of xylem conductivity from air embolism), carbon starvation (mortality due to carbohydrate limitation), insect attacks, wildfire, and their interdependence, suggest proximal causes of mortality are likely complex, co-occurring, interrelated, and variable with tree species. While the interdependent roles of carbon and water in plant mortality are consistently observed, this work is continuously prompting new questions.
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Also Published In
- Frontiers in Plant Science