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How the drier air of the warmer Earth stresses Douglas firs

Karla Jarecke, left, and Lauren Roof collect soil samples
Lina DiGregorio/OSU
Karla Jarecke, left, and Lauren Roof collect soil samples

One of the concepts of climate change we've had to learn is the "thirsty atmosphere." Simply put, a warmer world means the atmosphere is capable of taking up more water than it used to, like a drier sponge.

It leads to events like the 60 inches of rain that fell on parts of Texas in Hurricane Harvey. And in our part of the world, it means the atmosphere sucks up needed moisture from trees and other plants.

Oregon State University research shows that the drier air may have a greater effect on Douglas fir trees than lack of rain. Karla Jarecke, a postdoctoral researcher in the OSU College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences, led the research and talks about the findings.

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The Jefferson Exchange is Jefferson Public Radio's daily news program focused on issues, people and events across Southern Oregon and Northern California. Angela Decker is the program's senior producer, Charlie Zimmermann is the assistant producer, and Geoffrey Riley hosts the show.