From: University of California - Santa Barbara via EurekAlert!
Published August 30, 2016 04:59 PM

Vegetation matters

In California's Sierra Nevada mountains, as more precipitation falls in the form of rain rather than snow, and the snowpack melts earlier in spring, it's important for water managers to know when and how much water will be available for urban and agricultural needs and for the environment in general.

While changing precipitation patterns can have a significant impact on stream flows in the Sierra Nevada mountains, a new study by UC Santa Barbara researchers indicates that shifts in vegetation type resulting from warming and other factors may have an equal or greater effect. Their findings appear in the journal PLOS One.

"We found that vegetation change may have a greater impact on the amount of stream flow in the Sierra than the direct effects of climate warming," said lead author Ryan Bart, a postdoctoral researcher at UCSB's Bren School of Environmental Science & Management. Bart co-wrote the paper with Bren professor Naomi Tague and fire ecologist Max Moritz, an associate at UCSB's National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis.

As the climate continues to warm and produce more severe droughts, fires and tree die-off events across the western United States, the potential for widespread vegetation-type conversion is becoming increasingly plausible.

Continue reading at EurekAlert!

Image Credits: Miguel Vieira via Wikimedia Commons

 

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