The Surprising Role of Trees in the Boreal Water Cycle

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Project Summary

Approximately 25 to 50 percent of a living tree is made up of water, depending on the species and time of year. The water stored in trees has previously been considered just a minor part of the water cycle, but a study by University of Alaska Fairbanks scientists with support from the DOI Alaska Climate Science Center shows otherwise. Their research is the first to show that the uptake of snowmelt water by deciduous trees represents a large and previously overlooked aspect of the water balance in boreal watersheds. Calculating the amount of water stored by deciduous trees is important. The area occupied by deciduous trees in the boreal forest (or snow forest) is expected to increase 1 to 15 percent by the end of this century, and the absorption of snowmelt could also then increase. Quantifying tree water storage is important for understanding hydrology, tree response to drought and the related factors of tree water use, soil moisture and climate. Watch the webinar recording (to be posted on this page soon) to learn more about the methodology and findings from this project!

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