There is a reason why climate change has become the focus of so much news lately. According to scientists, we are in the midst of a global warming hell and we might soon reach a point where this environmental issue becomes extremely dangerous.
Unfortunately, nature is not helping as much as one might have thought, because a new study reveals that forests are taking a long time to recover from droughts.
The research was conducted by scientists at Princeton University and the results are quite worrying, given the fact that extreme heat has had very negative effects on the vegetation in various parts of the United States.
Up until now, this had not been an alarming aspect, because the nature’s power to regenerate seemed endless. However, it seems that those inexhaustible resources are coming to an end.
“The concern here is that the fate of forests around the world and here in the West is quite uncertain,” wrote the researchers.
In order to reach such conclusions, the scientists looked at the impact drought has on forests in various places all over the world. They found that trees needed, on average, 2 to 4 years to recover and begin the normal growth rates after the end of the drought.
They were surprised to see that the growth rates were 9 percent slower than thought in the first year and 5 percent slower during the second year.
This can have devastating effects because forests in general have a huge role in soaking up carbon dioxide. Given the slow recovery rate, it is safe to say that less CO2 will be absorbed and climate change is likely to speed up.
Trees are very good at indicating climate change by means of tree-ring dating (Dendrochronology), which reflects both the wood growth and the carbon absorption.
“Those legacy effects we saw following past droughts are likely to be more prevalent in future,” said the authors of the research.
Drought might affect trees’ ability to store water, which can prevent them from fully recovering afterwards. Furthermore, these affected trees might not be able to store so much carbon as they would in normal conditions and this could lead to more drought in the future.
Therefore, a vicious circle is created and this, in turn can result into the loss of many species of animals and plants on Earth. For this and for countless other reasons, it is of utmost importance to start taking action to help forests recover faster.
Image Source: nationalgeographic