Reduced resilience as an early warning signal of forest mortality

Yanlan Liu, Mukesh Kumar, Gabriel G. Katul, Amilcare Porporato

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

94 Scopus citations


Climate-induced forest mortality is being widely observed across the globe. Predicting forest mortality remains challenging because the physiological mechanisms causing mortality are not fully understood and empirical relations between climatology and mortality are subject to change. Here, we show that the temporal loss of resilience, a phenomenon often detected as a system approaches a tipping point, can be used as an early warning signal (EWS) to predict the likelihood of forest mortality directly from remotely sensed vegetation dynamics. We tested the proposed approach on data from Californian forests and found that the EWS can often be detected before reduced greenness, between 6 to 19 months before mortality. The EWS shows a species-specific relation with mortality, and is able to capture its spatio-temporal variations. These findings highlight the potential for such an EWS to predict forest mortality in the near-term.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)880-885
Number of pages6
JournalNature Climate Change
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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