- Two hundred-twenty-five million trees dead in the southwest in a 2002 drought.
- Three hundred million trees in Texas in 2011.
- Twelve million this past year in California.
Throughout the world, large numbers of trees are dying in extreme heat and drought events. Because mass die-offs can have critical consequences for the future of forests and the future of Earth’s climate, scientists are trying to understand how a warming climate could affect how often tree mortality events occur – and how severe they could become.
A University of Utah biologist may be able to help. William Anderegg and his colleagues looked for patterns in previous studies of tree mortality and found some common traits that characterized which species lived and which died during drought. The results, published today in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, can help chart the future of forests.“
There are some common threads that we might be able to use to predict which species are going to be more vulnerable in the future,” Anderegg says.