Predicting Forest Changes

Predicting Forest Changes

Predicting Forest Changes. I'm Greg Martin with Washington Ag Today.

A pair of WSU mathematicians and an ecologist have used their expertise to model what the future may hold for the forests of the Pacific Northwest and others. Mathematician, Jean Liénard explains the new report.

LIÉNARD: We made a model to predict how drought could impact forests in the U.S. in the coming century. And using this model, we were able to identify areas at risk for drought and the main outcome of this story is that high elevation areas as well as the north eastern part of the U.S. are at risk for drought in the coming century.

The modeling also shows that the current climate in the U.S. may be changing. Ecologist John Harrison.

HARRISON: We can link a certain drought tolerance to a certain climate regime and then as climate changes in the future, certain areas move outside the window of current variability. The areas that we designate sensitive to climate change are areas that move outside the current range of vulnerability to drought.

There are areas where they can't make a prediction. Nikolay Strigul says this won't be a drastic, visible change.

STRIGUL: It's not like someone that will wake up in 2050 and see this new world. It will happen continuously and this is why because of small changes, gradual changes. People may not notice them.

The research is interesting too because it shows some areas like the coastal forest of the state becoming more sub-tropical humid forests over time.

And that's Washington Ag Today. I'm Greg Martin, thanks for listening on the Ag Information Network of the West.

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