Ecosystems take longer and longer to recover after drought

droughts are getting longer and longer

As global average temperatures rise due to global warming, droughts are expected to become more frequent and more severe in many regions of the planet. There is a new study that indicates that terrestrial ecosystems take longer to recover from recent droughts than there were in the twentieth century.

The increase in the planet's average temperatures could lead to ecosystems not fully recovering. This would lead to the death of trees and, therefore, to a greater emission of greenhouse gases.

After the drought

Droughts increase due to climate change

The team of Christopher Schwalm, from the Woods Hole Research Center, in Falmouth, Massachusetts, United States, and Josh Fisher from NASA in the same country, measured recovery times after droughts in various regions of the world. In order to measure this, projections from climate models and measurements from the ground have been used.

The conclusion of the research is that it is taking longer and longer for almost all land areas to recover after a period of drought. There are two regions that are especially vulnerable to this phenomenon. This is the area of ​​the tropics and those in high northern latitudes. In these two areas the recovery time after a drought event was much longer than in the others.

From space you can see all the forests on the planet and other ecosystems that are hit by droughts in a repeated way. As the planet's average temperatures increase, droughts are becoming more frequent and more intense.

Data for the future

Data collected in space allows you to verify those simulations of the past and current climate, which, in turn, help reduce uncertainty in future climate projections.

The time it takes for an ecosystem to recover is a crucial parameter to be able to evaluate the possibility of survival of the same in extreme situations. It also helps to know what is the threshold where trees begin to die from lack of water.

Shorter periods between droughts, combined with longer recovery times, could lead to widespread tree die-offs, reducing the ability of affected land areas to absorb atmospheric carbon.


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