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Improving our knowledge of drought-induced forest mortality through experiments, observations, and modeling


McDowell, Nate G.; Ryan, Michael G.; Zeppel, Melanie J. B.; Tissue, David T. 2013. Improving our knowledge of drought-induced forest mortality through experiments, observations, and modeling. New Phytologist. 200: 289-293.

Regional and continental-scale forest and woodland mortality appears to be accelerating over recent decades (Allen et al., 2010; Peng et al., 2011). These contemporary increases in mortality are just the beginning, as temperature is rising rapidly and global models predict a large decline in the strength of the terrestrial carbon sink over the next century (Arora et al., 2013). Even if precipitation variability remains similar to historical patterns, chronic warming (and warming-associated extremes (Reichstein et al., 2013)) raise the likelihood of mortality through direct impacts on autotrophic respiration and on the growth of biotic agent populations, and indirect effects on stomatal conductance via rising vapor pressure deficit (VPD), thus impacting plant hydraulics and metabolism (Breshears et al., 2013; Williams et al., 2013). Although globally averaged Penmen-Monteith estimates suggest little change in terrestrial water balance in recent decades, many regions have indeed experienced a substantial increase in drought (Sheffield et al., 2012; Williams et al., 2013). From a forest's perspective, drought may not be dictated via a strict Penman-Monteith framework due to nonlinear plant physiological interactions with meteorology, potentially explaining some disproportionately strong regional growth and mortality responses to rising VPD (Liu et al., 2013; Williams et al., 2013). The consequences of forest mortality include large climate feedbacks (Adams et al., 2012; Maness et al., 2012; Jiang et al., 2013), impacts on community composition (Redmond & Barger, 2013), soil biochemistry (Cobb et al., 2013) and the availability of fuel wood and food in developing nations (Anderegg et al., 2012a).

Keywords: carbon dioxide, die-off, simulation, temperature, vapor pressure deficit


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Title: RMRS Other Publications: Improving our knowledge of drought-induced forest mortality through experiments, observations, and modeling
Electronic Publish Date: September 27, 2013
Last Update:
September 27, 2013

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