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This is Scientific American's 60-second Science, I'm Annie Sneed.
They give us paper and fuel, as well as vital ecological services―like cleaning the air, storing carbon and providing habitat.
We're talking about trees, of course.
But changes to the environment largely caused by appear to be causing profound transformations in trees around the world.
In a new study, scientists reviewed global research on trends in tree seedlings, growth and death.
They combined those data with an analysis of deforestation.
And they found that worldwide, older trees are dying at a higher rate than in the past due to factors like rising air temperature, wildfires, drought and pathogens.
"And most of the drivers of that decrease in large, old trees are increasing themselves,
such as temperature going up, droughts are more severe, wildfires, windstorms and deforestation are all―although variable across the globe―they're generally increasing.
And so both the loss has already occurred, but we expect more continued loss of big, old trees."
Nate McDowell, an earth scientist at Pacific Northwest National Lab, who was one of the study's authors.
"So if we have an increasing rate of death, particularly of the larger, older trees, what's left are the younger trees.
So that's why, on average, through the loss of bigger, older trees, our forests are becoming inherently younger and shorter."
这里是科学美国人――60秒科学系列,我是安妮・斯尼德。
它们为我们提供纸张和燃料,以及至关重要的生态服务,比如清洁空气、储存碳并提供栖息地。
当然,我们说的是树。
但主要由人类导致的环境变化似乎正在令全世界的树木发生深刻变化。
在一项新研究中,科学家回顾了针对树木幼苗、生长和死亡趋势进行的全球研究。
他们将这些数据与森林砍伐分析结合起来。
他们还发现,由于气温上升、森林火灾、干旱和病菌等因素,全球老树的死亡率比过去更高。
“大多数导致大型老树数量减少的因素都在增加,
比如气温升高,干旱加剧,森林大火,风暴和森林砍伐都在增加,尽管这一切在全球范围的程度不一,但整体都在增加。
因此,大树和老树的减少都已发生,但我们预计大树和老树还会继续减少。”
奈特・麦克道尔说到,他是太平洋西北国家实验室的地球科学家,也是这项研究的作者之一。
“因此,如果树木尤其是更大更老树木的死亡率不断上升,那剩下的就是更年轻的树木。
这就意味着平均而言,由于更大、更老树木的减少,我们的森林正变得越来越年轻、也越来越矮。”
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