Recent study in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences have mentioned that forest does not regenerate after wildfires because of recent climate changes.
As per the study, the recent climate change has made it hard for the tree seedlings to regrow after the wildfires in low-elevated forests, hence resulting in forest loss.
Kimberley Davis, the study’s lead author mentioned that the ability of forests to recover following a wildfire depends on annual climate conditions. This is because the tree seedlings are particularly at risk to hot and dry weather. He also mentioned that they wanted to identify the specific conditions that would be necessary for post-fire tree regeneration. This would help in understanding how climate change has affected forests through time.
To study the same, the researchers used tree rings to determine the establishment dates of more than 2,800 trees which regenerated after fires in Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho and New Mexico between 1988 and 2015. The study showed that annual tree regeneration rates were much lower when seasonal climate conditions, inclusive of humidity, temperature, soil moisture crossed specific threshold values.
In the study it has been also discovered that some of the low elevated forests which are currently forested now no longer have climatic conditions which is considered suitable for tree regeneration. In these areas, high severity fire might lead to ecosystem shift from forests to grasslands or shrub land. Also, the adult trees can survive in warmer and drier conditions than seedlings.
Image Credit: Euronews
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