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Study Suggests Link Between Climate Change, Changing Forests

Photo courtesy World Wildlife Fund
Photo courtesy World Wildlife Fund

A new study suggests climate change is transforming the forests of the eastern United States.

The University of Florida study found that changing rainfall and temperature patterns are prompting different tree species in eastern U.S. forests.

Senior author Jeremy Lichstein says in the Southeast drier conditions are encouraging slower-growing drought-tolerant species that can store less carbon.

"As the climate gets hotter and drier in the Southeast we will likely see a shift toward forests that store less biomass, which means there is more carbon in the atmosphere, which would just accelerate the changes in climate that are already happening."

The study is based on a vast amount of data gleaned through forest inventories conducted by the U.S. Forest Service from the 1980s to the 2000s.

Amy Green covered the environment for WMFE until 2023. Her work included the 2020 podcast DRAINED.