Hurricanes would increase tropical forest vulnerability to drought

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Hurricanes would increase tropical forest vulnerability to drought

Tropical hurricanes or cyclions are produced as a consequence of the sensible heat released by the ocean and then fed thanks to the latent heat of condensation released into the air by condensing water vapor. They are different from other storms or atmospheric eddies precisely because they have a different energy supply mechanism.

For this reason, tropical cyclones often form on the ocean above the equator, at about 15 ° latitude away from it, then moving towards high latitudes of the respective hemisphere until they run out more or less slowly, transforming into common extra-tropical cyclones.

However, if sea temperatures allow it, they can develop up to about 30 ° latitude or even over 35 ° latitude in the event of a tropical transition, a process that allows the dynamic and thermodynamic transformation of an extra-tropical cyclone into a tropical cyclone.
Researchers recently published a study titled Hurricanes increase tropical forest vulnerability to drought on The New phytologist.

The scientists explain: "Rapid changes in climate and disturbance regimes, including droughts and hurricanes, are likely to influence tropical forests, but our understanding of the compound effects of disturbances on forest ecosystems is extremely limited.

Filling this knowledge gap is necessary to elucidate the future of these ecosystems under a changing climate. We examined the relationship between hurricane response (damage, mortality, and resilience) and four hydraulic traits of 13 dominant woody species in a wet tropical forest subject to periodic hurricanes.

Species with high resistance to embolisms and higher safety margins were more resistant to immediate hurricane mortality and breakage, whereas species with higher hurricane resilience had high capacitance and P50 values and low.

During 26 yr of post-hurricane recovery, we found a decrease in community-weighted mean values for traits associated with greater drought resistance and an increase in capacitance, which has been linked with lower drought resistance.

Hurricane damage favors slow-growing, drought-tolerant species, whereas post-hurricane high resource conditions favor acquisitive, fast-growing but drought-vulnerable species, increasing forest productivity at the expense of drought tolerance and leading to higher overall forest vulnerability to drought."