Scaling up: How forest hydraulic diversity may throw off global climate models

Have you ever wondered how scientists model climate? Climate models are broad scale mathematical representations of atmospheric, oceanic, and land surface processes. Organisms, specifically plants, play an important role in how water, carbon dioxide, and solar energy is used and transformed. In fact, land plants are responsible for taking out an estimated 450 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere per year much of which is quickly returned to the atmosphere through respiration and decay. That number gives you an idea of just how important it is to understand plant physiology in order to be able to predict future atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations and thus future climate. A recent article in Nature explores how misrepresenting tree water use strategies may throw off climate models.

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Climate change can make it harder to help your neighbors – increased insect damage in diverse forest stands during drought

if you’re a tree trying to avoid being eaten by insects, it matters who you’ve got next to you: is it your own species, or another one? Often you’re better off with another species as a neighbor, but a new study shows that climate change can turn this upside down.

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