Subscribe to our free daily newsletters
. 24/7 Space News .




Subscribe to our free daily newsletters



WATER WORLD
Vegetation matters
by Staff Writers
Santa Barbara CA (SPX) Aug 31, 2016


As tree die-offs result from climate change, drought, fires and beetle infestations, shrubs may take their place, but that doesn't mean more water will be available downstream.

In California's Sierra Nevada mountains, as more precipitation falls in the form of rain rather than snow, and the snowpack melts earlier in spring, it's important for water managers to know when and how much water will be available for urban and agricultural needs and for the environment in general.

While changing precipitation patterns can have a significant impact on stream flows in the Sierra Nevada mountains, a new study by UC Santa Barbara researchers indicates that shifts in vegetation type resulting from warming and other factors may have an equal or greater effect. Their findings appear in the journal PLOS One.

"We found that vegetation change may have a greater impact on the amount of stream flow in the Sierra than the direct effects of climate warming," said lead author Ryan Bart, a postdoctoral researcher at UCSB's Bren School of Environmental Science and Management. Bart co-wrote the paper with Bren professor Naomi Tague and fire ecologist Max Moritz, an associate at UCSB's National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis.

As the climate continues to warm and produce more severe droughts, fires and tree die-off events across the western United States, the potential for widespread vegetation-type conversion is becoming increasingly plausible.

Wildfire is a particularly important factor. Exacerbated by climate and drought, fires such as the 2013 Rim Fire in Yosemite National Park can destroy entire stands of forest, which may not return. In some cases, they may be replaced by shrubs, raising the question of whether such a shift in vegetation type will leave more or less water in nearby streams.

The findings were generated using the Regional Hydro-Ecological Simulation System (RHESSys), a spatially distributed model of which Tague is the primary architect. Because the future composition of shrub lands and the distribution of shrub species in the Sierra Nevada is unknown, the researchers examined stream flows under multiple possible scenarios of vegetation-type conversion in two Sierra Nevada watersheds.

The team focused on the lower montane zone - which ranges in altitude from 4,000 to 7,000 - because the trailing, lower edge of many forests is likely to be the most susceptible to vegetation-type conversion. While some forest-to-shrub land conversion scenarios resulted in higher stream flow, depending on factors such as the size and area covered by shrub leaves relative to tree leaves, Bart noted that a shrub-dominated landscape would not necessarily result in more water in stream.

"Intuitively, you might think that shrubs would use less water than trees because they're smaller, but field work from a related study has shown this isn't always true," he explained.

"Shrubs are adept at pulling water out of the soil, so that in some cases, a decent-sized shrub may use just as much water as a much taller tree. It is only when shrubs are much smaller than trees that we see less water used by vegetation and thus more stream flow."

The researchers also found that increases in stream flow would be observed only during wet years. "During very dry years, it doesn't matter what vegetation you have on a landscape, whether a tall tree or a small shrub," Bart said. "Each vegetation type will be able to exploit all the available water."

The goal of the study was not to specify how much water will be available in the watersheds. "It's a small-scale study of just two watersheds, but it's the first to examine what might be the implication of vegetation-type conversion on stream flow in the Sierra Nevada," said Tague.

"Our results show that the hydrology and ecology communities need to collaborate to understand how mountain landscapes will change 50 or a 100 years from now in the Sierra or elsewhere," Bart said. "The results underscore the importance of accounting for changes in vegetation communities to accurately characterize future stream flow for the Sierra Nevada."


Thanks for being here;
We need your help. The SpaceDaily news network continues to grow but revenues have never been harder to maintain.

With the rise of Ad Blockers, and Facebook - our traditional revenue sources via quality network advertising continues to decline. And unlike so many other news sites, we don't have a paywall - with those annoying usernames and passwords.

Our news coverage takes time and effort to publish 365 days a year.

If you find our news sites informative and useful then please consider becoming a regular supporter or for now make a one off contribution.

SpaceDaily Contributor
$5 Billed Once


credit card or paypal
SpaceDaily Monthly Supporter
$5 Billed Monthly


paypal only

.


Related Links
University of California - Santa Barbara
Water News - Science, Technology and Politics






Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Previous Report
WATER WORLD
Millions at risk from rising water pollution: UN
Paris (AFP) Aug 30, 2016
Increasingly polluted rivers in Africa, Asia and Latin America pose a disease risk to more than 300 million people and threaten fisheries and farming in many countries, a UN report warned Tuesday. Already, some 3.4 million people die every year from water-borne ailments such as cholera, typhoid, some types of hepatitis and diarrhoeal diseases, said the United Nations Environment Programme. ... read more


WATER WORLD
Space tourists eye $150mln Soyuz lunar flyby

Roscosmos to spend $7.5Mln studying issues of manned lunar missions

Lockheed Martin, NASA Ink Deal for SkyFire Infrared Lunar Discovery Satellite

As dry as the moon

WATER WORLD
Test for damp ground at Mars' seasonal streaks finds none

Fossilized rivers suggest warm, wet ancient Mars

China unveils 2020 Mars rover concept: report

MAVEN Spacecraft Gears Up to Observe Global Dust Storm on Mars

WATER WORLD
Grandpa astronaut breaks US space record

35 years later Voyager's legacy continues at Saturn

Chinese sci-fi prepares to master the universe

NASA Licenses New Auto-Tracking Mobile Antenna Platform

WATER WORLD
China unveils Mars probe, rover for ambitious 2020 mission

China Ends Preparatory Work on Long March 5 Next-Generation Rocket Engine

China launches hi-res SAR imaging satellite

China launches world first quantum satellite

WATER WORLD
Space Station's orbit adjusted Wednesday

Astronauts Relaxing Before Pair of Spaceships Leave

'New port of call' installed at space station

US astronauts prepare spacewalk to install new docking port

WATER WORLD
Russian Carrier Rocket for Sea Launches Will Replace Ukraine's Zenit

Intelsat "doubles down" with Arianespace for an Ariane 5 dual success

Kourou busy with upcoming Arianespace missions

Ariane 5 is approved for this week's Arianespace launch with two Intelsat payloads

WATER WORLD
Rocky planet found orbiting habitable zone of nearest star

A new Goldilocks for habitable planets

Venus-like Exoplanet Might Have Oxygen Atmosphere, but Not Life

Brown dwarfs reveal exoplanets' secrets

WATER WORLD
UNIST to engineer next-generation smart separator membranes

3-D-printed structures 'remember' their shapes

Berlin's IFA fair dons virtual reality headsets

New method developed for producing some metals




Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News






The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2017 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. All articles labeled "by Staff Writers" include reports supplied to Space Media Network by industry news wires, PR agencies, corporate press officers and the like. Such articles are individually curated and edited by Space Media Network staff on the basis of the report's information value to our industry and professional readership. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement