Bioscience

Global Warming: Heat could kill drought-stressed trees fast

April 15, 2009

By Flinn Foundation

[Source: ScienceDaily] – Widespread die-off of piñon pine across the southwestern United States during future droughts will occur at least five times faster if climate warms by 4 degrees Celsius, even if future droughts are no worse than droughts of the past century, scientists have discovered in experiments conducted at the University of Arizona’s Biosphere 2.

Their study is the first to isolate the impact of just temperature on tree mortality during drought. The temperature effect is usually confounded by varying weather and bark beetle and other pest attacks. Quantitative information on how sensitive drought-stressed trees are to hotter temperatures is critical for predicting drastic, sudden and widespread die-offs, the scientists said.

University of Arizona researchers and their colleagues transported 20 reproductively mature piñon pine trees from New Mexico to Biosphere 2’s glass-enclosed 3.14-acre living laboratory near Oracle, Ariz., for the experiment.

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