Australian researchers find groundwater threshold for healthy forests

By on January 4, 2013
Forest study site near Kangaloon (credit: Nicole Grant)

Australian researchers monitored trees to observe a groundwater threshold between acceptable water withdrawal and life threatening water withdrawal for trees, according to a University of Technology Sydney press release.

The researchers found that once groundwater levels shrink below ten meters beneath the surface, Australian vegetation is at risk of death or severe damage.  Trees monitored in areas with water above this level were in healthy diverse forests. Trees in areas below the threshold were in areas much the opposite.

The researchers used heat sensors on a pristine forest in the Sydney catchment to analyze water consumption. The sensors send heat through trees’ sap and return measurements of water consumption.

The research was conducted by the UTS Plant Functional Biology and Climate Change Cluster, in collaboration with The National Centre for Groundwater Research and Training.

Image: Forest study site near Kangaloon (Credit: Nicole Grant)

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