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How trees manage water in arid environments

urnal of Arid Environments, which is available on the Web at http://authors.elsevier.com/offprints/YJARE1769/0dee34d6306f9059b870583e03a193bd, she reports the first results of a study designed to characterize the surface exchanges of water and carbon dioxide in a forest in the Santa Catalina Mountains near Tucson, Ariz. Mountain forests are an important source of water for the rest of such semi-arid regions, and these forests provide relatively isolated conditions where scientists can get a clearer picture of what is happening to the water that so many people depend on. In a desert region, such forests are found only at the tops of mountains because only there does precipitation exceed evaporation enough for forest vegetation to survive.

Understanding surface-atmosphere interactions is important to understanding a range of water resource phenomena including predictions about water supplies, Brown said. "This research seeks to characterize the explicit relationship between water availability and photosynthetic activities of the vegetation. This paper is the first step in that process, and it illustrates the seasonal characteristics of the forest vegetation-water relationship as observed during a three-year period during which there were extreme drought conditions in the semi-arid southwestern United States."

Brown's measurements showed that in this environment, there is a predominant, direct and immediate correspondence between water availability and photosynthetic activity of the vegetation. This is different from what happens in most coniferous forests, where the seasonal behavior of the trees is significantly influenced by temperature changes: the trees are largely dormant in winter and have a summer growing season. The mountain-top forest that she studied was in some ways the opposite. __IMAGE_3

"During the summer season before the heavy
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Source:Indiana University


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