Forests and Climate Change
On Wednesday past I attended a presentation at the NSW Royal Society and a Talk “Climate change, regional drought and forest mortality: are we seeing a new global phenomenon?”
Speaker: Professor Derek Eamus
Professor Eamus – presented an interesting and well substantiated case that it was humidity in the canopy of trees that was critical to their survival not as commonly thought, Temperature and Water. He discussed how various factors influence each other and which factors are most important. Although not expert myself in this field I was able to draw the following conclusions, some of which I verified through putting some questions to the Professor on the night.
- There is massive die-back occurring all over the world in forests even without human intervention
- Humidity is largely conserved in the atmosphere as a whole, that is increased global temperatures, does not result in increased global humidity.
- Normal weather relationships mean increased temperature, combined with reduced rainfall will cause a drop in Humidity in forest canopies and thus increased die-back.
- Given that Humidity in the canopy is critical to tree survival;
- Larger stands of trees are more resilient than isolated trees
- There is evidence to support the concept of “Micro climates”
- This is further support for the idea that coastal forests that run inland, help bring rainfall inland.
- Soil health/depth/moisture is critical to resilience in forests.
In Closing, Professor Derek Eamus presented a well argued, evidence based comprehensive model to support his conclusions and was very professional in qualifying answers to questions outside his scientific specialisation. He demonstrated, that often false assertion that models are somehow weaker than empirical research is unfounded because these models we based on substantial empirical research. The models help extract the signals from complex data, enable us to ask “what if” questions we then test empirically, which will either strengthen or weaken the model.
Please note: these conclusions are my own and not that of the Professor and while I am well informed on the above subjects, I am not a professional scientist. Please follow standard scientific peer reviewed literature for a more in depth understanding.
Original Content – Anthony Muscio