Cyclones can help forests recover from dry spells, study finds

Although it might sound counter-intuitive, large-scale disturbances such as cyclones can also bring benefits to forests. This was documented by a study co-authored by INFORMA’s researcher Sebastiaan Luyssaert, from the Vrije University of Amsterdam. The study analysed the recovery of forests in East Asia after the passage of tropical cyclones using satellite-based images to measure forests’ leaf area.

The data showed that, sixty days after their passage, around 18% of the cyclones caused a decrease in leaf area, 28% brought no change while a surprising 34% led to an increase in leaf area. The latter occurred because, despite leaving behind a storm track, cyclones carried precipitation to forests, which helped them recover from dry spells.

The open-access study “Tropical cyclones facilitate recovery of forest leaf area from dry spells in East Asia”, authored by Luyssaert and Yi-Ying Chen, from the Research Center for Environmental Changes in Taipei, Taiwan, can be downloaded here.

Photo credit: Geoff Whalan/Flickr