Even after drought conditions subside, trees may take years to resume normal growth, say scientists.
By Joseph Dussault, Staff writer July 30, 2015
It’s no surprise that droughts can severely weaken forests. But what happens when the drought ends?
Traditionally, climate models have operated under the assumption that forests bounce back quickly from periods of extreme stress. But new research, published Thursday in the journal Science, suggests that trees may take years to resume normal growth after a period of drought.
“It’s probably not too surprising that trees don’t seem to recover from severe drought immediately,” lead author William Anderegg told the Monitor. “A large body of plant physiological research has studied drought stress and damage, and repair of that damage is rarely observed as perfect or immediate.”
He added, “What surprised us was how widespread and pervasive this delayed recovery from drought was.”