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Top Story

In a drought, which trees risk death from embolisms?

Drought left 225 million trees dead in the U.S. Southwest in 2002. Nine years later, it killed 300 million trees in Texas. This past year, 12 million trees died in California. Throughout the world, large numbers of trees are dying in extreme heat and drought. Such mass die-offs can have critical consequences for the future of forests and Earth's climate. On Earth Week, scientists are trying to understand how a warming climate could affect how often tree mortality events occur -- and how severe they could become. New research may be able to help. A team of biologists looked for patterns in previous studies of tree mortality and found some common traits that characterized which species lived and which died during drought. The results, published today in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, can help chart the future of forests.

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