Forests are changing due to shifts in rainfall and temperature

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In Florida, American forests are changing, thanks to climate change-induced shifts in rainfall and temperature that are causing shifts in the abundance of numerous tree species, according to University of Florida researchers.

“Although climate change has been less dramatic in the eastern U.S. compared to some other regions, such as Alaska and the southwestern U.S., we were interested to see if there were signals in forest inventory data that might indicate climate-induced changes in eastern U.S. forests,” said Jeremy Lichstein, senior author and a UF assistant professor of biology.  “The changes we documented are easily masked by other disturbances, which is probably why no one had previously documented them. Without a long-term dataset with millions of trees, we probably could not have detected these changes.”

Some forests in the eastern U.S. are already looking different, meaning the ability of those forests to soak up carbon is being altered as well.