Climate Change Could Change Southwestern Landscape
Scientists from several organizations including the University of Arizona, the U.S. Geological Survey and Los Alamos National Laboratory combined tree-ring records that go back to 1000 A.D. with climate research and computer-model projections. They got a pretty grim picture for forests in the southwest.
A major drought in the late 1500s caused massive tree die-offs. Park Williams, a Los Alamos researcher and the lead author, has predicted similar mega-drought conditions by the 2040s.
"By the 2040s forest drought stress in our average year will be as strong or stronger than the worst years of the 1500s mega-drought," Williams said.
The study showed the impacts will take place across the landscape, not just on one species or site. The paper was published in the journal Nature Climate Change.