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OSU to study link between climate change, tree die-offs

The Oregon Climate Change Research Institute will lead a five-year study on how increasing drought, insect attacks and fires are causing tree die-offs and harming forest health.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture awarded $4 million for the study.

“The western United States has gone through two decades of devastating forest loss and we don’t even fully know why it happened, much less how to predict these events,” says Philip Mote, director of the Oregon Climate Change Research Institute at OSU, and a principal investigator on the grant. “Certainly wildfire, bark beetle infestation and drought play a role, but the intersection of these factors with forest management decisions hasn’t been well-explored," Mote says. “A change in severity of drought, for example, can make the difference between trees losing some needles and wiping out the entire stand. The margin between life and death in the forest can be rather small.”