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Warmer temperatures are drying western forests

Warming western temperatures are creating problems for trees and forests in many ways. Higher temperatures lead to drier soil and more water loss from leaves and needles directly.  However, warmer conditions also reduce snowpack and lead to earlier snowmelt and lower late-summer stream flows, which also affect summertime soil moisture and water supply. All these factors combine to put more stress on vegetation, leading to more drying, death and susceptibility to fire1 2 and pests, including pine bark beetles.

  1. Adams, Henry D. et. al. “Temperature sensitivity of drought-induced tree mortality portends increased regional die-off under global-change-type drought.” (Abstract) PNAS 106, no. 17 (April 28, 2009): 7063-7066.
  2. van Mantgem, Phillip J. “Widespread Increase of Tree Mortality Rates in the Western United States.” (Abstract) Science 323 (January 2009): 521-524.


Fewer Days Below 32°F Parts of the U.S. may see 90 percent fewer days mid-century with average temps below 32°F.

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