U.S. Department of Energy researchers found that climate change has altered the world’s forests, making them shorter and younger.
Researchers from the DoE’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Washington said rising temperatures and carbon dioxide have altered the world’s forests through increased stress, carbon dioxide fertilization and the severity of disturbances like wildfire, drought and other “natural enemies.”
Those changes have resulted in a decrease in the age and height of forests.
“This trend is likely to continue with climate warming,” said Nate McDowell, the study’s lead author. “A future planet with fewer large, old forests will be very different than what we have grown accustomed to. Older forests often host much higher biodiversity than young forests and they store more carbon than young forests.”
The study found that wood harvests alone have had a huge impact on the shift of global forests towards younger and shorter trees.