Climate crimping forests’ ability to regrow after fire
Warmer and drier climate conditions in western U.S. forests make it less likely trees can regenerate after wildfires, according to new research from the University of Montana.
“Climate change increasingly limits tree establishment after wildfires because seedlings can be killed by hot temperatures and dry conditions,” said lead author Kim Davis, who completed the study at UM and now works as a research ecologist with the U.S. Forest Service Rocky Mountain Research Station at the Missoula Fire Sciences Laboratory.
However, the research also finds that ecologically based forest management can partially offset climate-driven declines in tree regeneration by limiting fire-caused tree death, but only if action is taken quickly. That could improve new state and federal forest management initiatives across millions of acres of Western forests.
Trees in California’s Sierra Nevada forest are “cheating death” and longer matching their climate. Veuer’s Maria Mercedes Galuppo has the story.
Hotter and drier conditions in recent decades have intensified the way fires burn, resulting in more trees being killed across the western United States. All of this can result in fewer seeds available for forests to regenerate after wildfires. Even when seeds are available, a warming climate increasingly limits the chances that