China News Service, Beijing, May 19 (Reporter Sun Zifa) A newly published paper on climate change in the internationally renowned academic journal "Nature" believes that atmospheric water stress caused by global warming may be the main reason for the increase in tree death in humid tropical forests.

A tropical rainforest left in northeastern Australia, one of the oldest and most isolated rainforests in the world (Photo courtesy of Alexander Schenkin) Springer Nature

  The study by the authors' team found that tree death in Australia has increased, with tree deaths in northern Queensland, Australia, possibly doubling between 1984 and 2019.

Their research suggests that the life expectancy of trees in the region could be halved, an effect linked to increased climate change and wind disturbance events caused by cyclones.

  According to the paper, tropical forests are critical to the global carbon cycle and are known to influence the rate of climate change.

Past research has shown that accelerated tree death in some parts of the tropics will have implications for the future of tropical carbon sinks - which absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

However, the possible mechanisms driving tree death and whether specific tree species are more vulnerable were previously unclear.

A tropical rainforest left in northeastern Australia, one of the oldest and most isolated rainforests in the world (Photo courtesy of Alexander Schenkin) Springer Nature

  Corresponding author of the paper, David Bauman of the University of Oxford, UK, and colleagues, in collaboration with international colleagues, analyzed tree mortality patterns of 74,135 trees of 81 different species in 24 forest plots in northern Queensland from 1971 to 2019. , they found that, across all plots and species, the annual risk of tree mortality doubled on average from 1984 to 2019.

Where the local climate is drier, the average tree mortality risk is higher.

  The authors point out that improved health assessments of trees could improve people's ability to judge the causes of individual tree deaths.

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