California’s historic drought puts forests in tremendous peril

California’s historic drought puts forests in tremendous peril

California’s historic drought taking place since 2011 has led up to 58 million large trees in the state to witness water loss than in turn could prove life threatening, finds a new research. Study researchers at Stanford University’s Carnegie Institution for Science has unveiled that this drought is putting extreme burden on California’s forests.

The years of little or no rain coupled with higher temperatures and insect outbreaks, the risk of trees dying has increased significantly and would lead to negative changes in the ecosystems. Study’s lead author Gregory Asner from Carnegie Institution for Science said, “California relies on its forests for water provisioning and carbon storage, as well as timber products, tourism, and recreation, so they are tremendously important ecologically, economically, and culturally”.

The changes that will take place owing to the drought could impact animal habitats and biodiversity. Using advanced tools, the researchers have come to know that around 41,000 square miles of forest having up to 888 million large trees has witnessed changes in the amount of water stores in the canopy of trees between 2011 and 2015.

Out of them, around 58 million large trees have reached at water loss threshold that as per the scientists are quite dangerous for the long-term forest health. Laser-guided, imaging spectrometer mounted on the Carnegie Airborne Observatory (CAO) was used to measure the mass of the water in the canopy and was coupled with the traditional satellite data dating back to 2011.

Ashley Conrad-Saydah, Deputy Secretary for climate policy at the California Environmental Protection Agency, said that the research paper has provided an important insight into the severity of drought impacts in California’s iconic forests.

The drought would not only affect animal species but would also lead to loss of key source for storing carbon and water from snow packs and economic benefits would also been affected. Asner said that there are many problems with losing these forests.

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