PERVASIVE DROUGHT LEGACIES IN FOREST ECOSYSTEMS AND THEIR IMPLICATIONS FOR CARBON CYCLE MODELS

Within the global carbon cycle, trees play an invaluable role as their process of photosynthesis results in the absorption of carbon and production of oxygen. But with extreme weather and droughts becoming more frequent, what impacts might be observed in our forests?

In new research published in Science, a team of researchers—including Dr. George Koch and Dr. Christopher Schwalm from NAU—studied a tree-ring database of 1,338 forest sites from around the globe. They found that forests exhibit a drought “legacy effect” with 3 to 4 years' reduced growth following drought. Incorporating forest legacy effects into Earth system models will provide more accurate predictions of the effects of drought on the global carbon cycle.