A team at the University of Arizona has a neat piece of work in PNAS this week isolating the temperature variable in the tree mortality we’re seeing in the West. The scientists put piñon trees from northern New Mexico (I’m so parochial) into Biosphere 2 down by Phoenix, using the facility’s ability to control temperature to understand the role of temperature in drought-induced piñon dieoff. Their results should not be surprising. The warmer it is, the more likely for a given moisture deficit that the trees will die. Given the forecasts for the coming century, I don’t have to connect the dots for you.
This builds on a couple of key papers over the last few years, including one by Breshears et al. in PNAS and the van Mantgem et al. paper from earlier this year in Science.
More at the work blog, and I’ll have a story in the morning paper.