New research, published in the journal Science, suggests boreal forests require significant protection to survive global warming. Warmer summers are a noxious key factor which is detrimental to the taiga, reducing photosynthesis.
The study conducted by Austria’s Institute for Applied Systems Analysis said that boreal forests, known as the taiga, characterized by coniferous forests dominated by firs and spruces, were facing highly increased temperatures and low precipitation levels. The taiga extends across northern Eurasia and North America, delimitated by the tundra, to the north, and steppe, to the south.
One of the lead authors of the study, from Austria’s Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, Dmitry Schespaschenko, reported in a press release that boreal forests have the potential to hit a tipping point this century.
He continued by saying that an emphasis should be placed on climate mitigation and adaptation concerning this type of forests, while taking a closer, balanced look at forests worldwide.
The taiga extends across Canada, Alaska, Scandinavia and Russia and is one of the most extensive biotic communities on Earth, representing one-third of the planet’s forest area.
Many plants grow there and animals took refuge in boreal forests. The taiga is also a source of lumber and fuel for indigenous populations. This aspect is also important for the local economies.
Moreover, the biome’s hydrological system has been disrupted, as a consequence of low precipitations, as boreal forests are under high pressure. Insect pests and growing fires are worsening the situation.
Moreover, insect infestations can acquire a highly detrimental effect to boreal forests, due to drought and other noxious factors which play a role in harming the taiga’s resilience.
So, conservation changes should particularly be fulfilled, even though trees have been evolving across millions of years to withstand pests, fires and drought and disease, among other harmful factors.
The forests have developed via cold temperatures, whereas their resilience to increasing temperatures is not yet determined.
Furthermore, the deteriorating taiga would accelerate global warming, as forests worldwide are transformed into a source of carbon dioxide.
It is widely known that trees have been pulling carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere as they grow, therefore combating climate change. Biodiversity has been promoted, but compromised at the present time.
It could be finally pointed out that, as a widely known factor – the health of the planet depends on the health of its forests.
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