The team proposes to test the hypothesis that forest-management strategies that use thinning to reduce fire risk and maintain the historical mix can also increase water yield and extend the snowpack in the Sierra Nevada.
The scientists suggest that by selectively reducing the number of trees — which use large amounts of the water received through precipitation — the amount of water that is released from the forest as runoff could increase. This enhanced runoff could make things easier for farmers and water managers statewide.
As part of the Sierra Nevada Watershed Ecosystem Enhancement Project (SWEEP), the scientists plan to reduce forest density in test areas and examine the impacts on water runoff, forest health and other ecosystem services, and provide a template for broader forest management in the Sierra Nevada.
The thinning of forests, which are much denser now than in past centuries, is already a common practice to reduce the risk of wildfires. The scientists also believe thinning can be done in ways that enhance the forests’ overall ecological health.
“It is critical to test these thinning prescriptions in well-controlled, well-monitored experimental areas to evaluate and verify the effects before applying them statewide,” said lead author Roger Bales, a UC Merced professor and director of the Sierra Nevada Research Institute. “Reductions in forest density to enhance runoff have been attempted in past experiments, but never over a sustained period of time, and never under the conditions that currently exist in the Sierra Nevada.”
California’s water supply has been diminished by drought in recent years, and climate change is only exacerbating the problem, the researchers said. Warmer temperatures mean more rain and less snow, which leads to runoff that comes earlier in the year. Warming can also lengthen the growing season for trees and other plants, reducing runoff, and the warmer, drier conditions have been shown to increase the frequency and severity of wildfires.
Reducing forest density can help counter the effects of climate warming on runoff, they said, in addition to enhancing the runoff directly.
“Climate change is having and will have direct effects on the water supply and storage capacity of the Sierra Nevada forests,” said UC Berkeley Professor John Battles, one of the researchers on the project. “Management with an eye toward the water balance provides one potentially important mitigation tool.”
Other researchers on the project include Yihsu Chen, Martha H. Conklin and Philip Saksa of UC Merced; Kevin L. O’Hara and William Stewart of UC Berkeley; and Eric Holst of the Environmental Defense Fund.
UC Merced opened Sept. 5, 2005, as the 10th campus in the University of California system and the first American research university of the 21st century. The campus significantly expands access to the UC system for students throughout the state, with a special mission to increase college-going rates among students in the San Joaquin Valley. It also serves as a major base of advanced research and as a stimulus to economic growth and diversification throughout the region. Situated near Yosemite National Park, the university is expected to grow rapidly, topping out at about 25,000 students within 30 years.
James Leonard | Newswise Science News
Plant seeds survive machine washing - Dispersal of invasive plants with clothes
11.09.2018 | Gesellschaft für Ökologie e.V.
Air pollution leads to cardiovascular diseases
21.08.2018 | Universitätsmedizin der Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz
Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research (MPI-P) in Mainz (Germany) together with scientists from Dresden, Leipzig, Sofia (Bulgaria) and Madrid (Spain) have now developed and characterized a novel, metal-organic material which displays electrical properties mimicking those of highly crystalline silicon. The material which can easily be fabricated at room temperature could serve as a replacement for expensive conventional inorganic materials used in optoelectronics.
Silicon, a so called semiconductor, is currently widely employed for the development of components such as solar cells, LEDs or computer chips. High purity...
Augsburg chemists present a new technology for compressing, storing and transporting highly volatile gases in porous frameworks/New prospects for gas-powered vehicles
Storage of highly volatile gases has always been a major technological challenge, not least for use in the automotive sector, for, for example, methane or...
When we put water in a freezer, water molecules crystallize and form ice. This change from one phase of matter to another is called a phase transition. While this transition, and countless others that occur in nature, typically takes place at the same fixed conditions, such as the freezing point, one can ask how it can be influenced in a controlled way.
We are all familiar with such control of the freezing transition, as it is an essential ingredient in the art of making a sorbet or a slushy. To make a cold...
Thin organic layers provide machines and equipment with new functions. They enable, for example, tiny energy recuperators. In future, these will be installed...
Das Zusammenspiel aus Struktur und Dynamik bestimmt die Funktion von Proteinen, den molekularen Werkzeugen der Zelle. Durch Fortschritte in der...
17.10.2018 | Event News
16.10.2018 | Event News
02.10.2018 | Event News
19.10.2018 | Earth Sciences
19.10.2018 | Life Sciences
19.10.2018 | Health and Medicine