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Wildfires and climate change are transforming forests in the Southwest U.S.

Wildfires and climate change are transforming forests in the Southwest U.S.

Climate crisis and wildfires are changing forests in Southwest U.S.

In the absence of crystal balls and time machines, scientists use natural records like ice cores to understand what happened on the planet before we arrived, and math and computers to predict whether humans can survive the changes ahead. Although it isn’t perfect, it’s the best approach available to science fiction films and fairy tales.

In Arizona, the science ecosystem change has a lot to do with trees.

Donald FalkAssociate professor at the University of Arizona’s Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research. He uses trees and forests as a lens to study how southwestern ecosystems respond — in the past, present and future —  to challenges such as the rising average temperatures, worsening drought and more intense wildfires linked to climate change.

Falk and co-workers published a publication in March. Review paper“Mechanisms that forest resilience” is a paper published in Forest Ecology and Management. It is a comprehensive academic look at the ecological processes behind what, in the Southwest, is plain to see: The forests are dry, brittle and burning at unprecedented rates. Sometimes they don’t come back as forests.

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