Temperature as a potent driver of regional forest drought stress and tree mortality

A. Park Williams, Craig D. Allen, Alison K. Macalady, Daniel Griffin, Connie Woodhouse, David Meko, Thomas Swetnam, Sara A. Rauscher, Richard Seager, Henri D. Grissino-Mayer, Jeffrey S. Dean, Edward R. Cook, Chandana Gangodagamage, Michael Cai, Nate G. Mcdowell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

751 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

As the climate changes, drought may reduce tree productivity and survival across many forest ecosystems; however, the relative influence of specific climate parameters on forest decline is poorly understood. We derive a forest drought-stress index (FDSI) for the southwestern United States using a comprehensive tree-ring data set representing AD 1000-2007. The FDSI is approximately equally influenced by the warm-season vapour-pressure deficit (largely controlled by temperature) and cold-season precipitation, together explaining 82% of the FDSI variability. Correspondence between the FDSI and measures of forest productivity, mortality, bark-beetle outbreak and wildfire validate the FDSI as a holistic forest-vigour indicator. If the vapour-pressure deficit continues increasing as projected by climate models, the mean forest drought-stress by the 2050s will exceed that of the most severe droughts in the past 1,000 years. Collectively, the results foreshadow twenty-first-century changes in forest structures and compositions, with transition of forests in the southwestern United States, and perhaps water-limited forests globally, towards distributions unfamiliar to modern civilization.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)292-297
Number of pages6
JournalNature Climate Change
Volume3
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2013

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drought stress
drought
mortality
driver
temperature
vapor pressure
deficit
productivity
climate
twenty first century
civilization
vigor
tree ring
wildfire
bark
forest ecosystem
twenty-first century
beetle
climate modeling
climate change

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)

Cite this

Temperature as a potent driver of regional forest drought stress and tree mortality. / Williams, A. Park; Allen, Craig D.; Macalady, Alison K.; Griffin, Daniel; Woodhouse, Connie; Meko, David; Swetnam, Thomas; Rauscher, Sara A.; Seager, Richard; Grissino-Mayer, Henri D.; Dean, Jeffrey S.; Cook, Edward R.; Gangodagamage, Chandana; Cai, Michael; Mcdowell, Nate G.

In: Nature Climate Change, Vol. 3, No. 3, 03.2013, p. 292-297.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Williams, AP, Allen, CD, Macalady, AK, Griffin, D, Woodhouse, C, Meko, D, Swetnam, T, Rauscher, SA, Seager, R, Grissino-Mayer, HD, Dean, JS, Cook, ER, Gangodagamage, C, Cai, M & Mcdowell, NG 2013, 'Temperature as a potent driver of regional forest drought stress and tree mortality', Nature Climate Change, vol. 3, no. 3, pp. 292-297. https://doi.org/10.1038/nclimate1693
Williams, A. Park ; Allen, Craig D. ; Macalady, Alison K. ; Griffin, Daniel ; Woodhouse, Connie ; Meko, David ; Swetnam, Thomas ; Rauscher, Sara A. ; Seager, Richard ; Grissino-Mayer, Henri D. ; Dean, Jeffrey S. ; Cook, Edward R. ; Gangodagamage, Chandana ; Cai, Michael ; Mcdowell, Nate G. / Temperature as a potent driver of regional forest drought stress and tree mortality. In: Nature Climate Change. 2013 ; Vol. 3, No. 3. pp. 292-297.
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