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Hot summers, drought killing trees?

Posted on Feb 12, 03:03PM | IANS

Washington, Feb 12 : High summer temperatures, worsened by drought like conditions, are killing off trees, according to a report by US researchers.

These deaths, triggered by the drought from 2000-2003, are estimated to have affected up to 17 percent of aspen forests in Colorado.

In 2002, the drought subjected the trees to the most extreme growing season and water stress of the past century.

The drought damaged the ability of the trees to provide water to their leaves, precipitating a decline in growth and increased mortality that has continued for a decade after the drought, the journal Global Change Biology reports.

Scientists from Carnegie Institute's Department of Global Ecology, additionally say they have lacked a sufficient understanding of the processes that lead to die-offs, which inhibits the ability to predict how climate change can affect different eco-systems.

The recent study was led by brothers Leander and William Anderegg.

William was a doctoral student while Leander was an undergraduate at the time of the research at Carnegie, according to an institute statement.

"Forests store about 45 percent of the carbon found on land," remarked William.

"Widespread tree death can radically transform eco-systems, affecting bio-diversity, posing fire risks, and even harming local economies."

"Rapid shifts in eco-systems, particularly through vegetation die-offs could be among the most striking impacts of increased drought and climate change around the globe," added William.