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Selection: McDowell:N [6 articles] 

Publications by author McDowell:N.

Mechanisms of plant survival and mortality during drought: why do some plants survive while others succumb to drought?

New Phytologist, Vol. 178, No. 4. (1 June 2008), pp. 719-739,


Severe droughts have been associated with regional-scale forest mortality worldwide. Climate change is expected to exacerbate regional mortality events; however, prediction remains difficult because the physiological mechanisms underlying drought survival and mortality are poorly understood. We developed a hydraulically based theory considering carbon balance and insect resistance that allowed development and examination of hypotheses regarding survival and mortality. Multiple mechanisms may cause mortality during drought. A common mechanism for plants with isohydric regulation of water status results from avoidance of drought-induced ...


Darcy's law predicts widespread forest mortality under climate warming

Nature Climate Change, Vol. 5, No. 7. (18 May 2015), pp. 669-672,


Nature Climate Change | Letter Print Share/bookmark Darcy's law predicts widespread forest mortality under climate warming Nathan G. McDowell & Craig D. Allen Affiliations Contributions Corresponding author Nature Climate Change 5, 669–672 (2015) Received 23 July 2014 Accepted 07 April ...


Correlations between components of the water balance and burned area reveal new insights for predicting forest fire area in the southwest United States

International Journal of Wildland Fire, Vol. 24, No. 1. (2015), 14,


We related measurements of annual burned area in the southwest United States during 1984–2013 to records of climate variability. Within forests, annual burned area correlated at least as strongly with spring–summer vapour pressure deficit (VPD) as with 14 other drought-related metrics, including more complex metrics that explicitly represent fuel moisture. Particularly strong correlations with VPD arise partly because this term dictates the atmospheric moisture demand. Additionally, VPD responds to moisture supply, which is difficult to measure and model regionally due to ...


On underestimation of global vulnerability to tree mortality and forest die-off from hotter drought in the Anthropocene

Ecosphere, Vol. 6, No. 8. (August 2015), art129,


Patterns, mechanisms, projections, and consequences of tree mortality and associated broad-scale forest die-off due to drought accompanied by warmer temperatures—“hotter drought”, an emerging characteristic of the Anthropocene—are the focus of rapidly expanding literature. Despite recent observational, experimental, and modeling studies suggesting increased vulnerability of trees to hotter drought and associated pests and pathogens, substantial debate remains among research, management and policy-making communities regarding future tree mortality risks. We summarize key mortality-relevant findings, differentiating between those implying lesser versus greater levels of ...


A global overview of drought and heat-induced tree mortality reveals emerging climate change risks for forests

Forest Ecology and Management, Vol. 259, No. 4. (05 February 2010), pp. 660-684,


Greenhouse gas emissions have significantly altered global climate, and will continue to do so in the future. Increases in the frequency, duration, and/or severity of drought and heat stress associated with climate change could fundamentally alter the composition, structure, and biogeography of forests in many regions. Of particular concern are potential increases in tree mortality associated with climate-induced physiological stress and interactions with other climate-mediated processes such as insect outbreaks and wildfire. Despite this risk, existing projections of tree mortality are ...

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Temperature as a potent driver of regional forest drought stress and tree mortality

Nature Climate Change, Vol. 3, No. 3. (30 September 2012), pp. 292-297,


As the climate changes, drought may reduce tree productivity and survival across many forest ecosystems; however, the relative influence of specific climate parameters on forest decline is poorly understood. We derive a forest drought-stress index (FDSI) for the southwestern United States using a comprehensive tree-ring data set representing AD 1000–2007. The FDSI is approximately equally influenced by the warm-season vapour-pressure deficit (largely controlled by temperature) and cold-season precipitation, together explaining 82% of the FDSI variability. Correspondence between the FDSI and measures ...

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