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October 2012 issue

About the Cover: As global temperatures rise and droughts become more severe, trees become more susceptible to an early death. Trees around the world are now dying at mortality rates far greater than they were just 40 years ago—even in rain forests and other non-arid ecosystems. And because trees take in carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while they’re alive (and release much of it when they die), an acceleration in their deaths may lead to a corresponding acceleration in climate change. In order to determine how rapidly these changes will proceed—and what, if anything, can be done to slow them down—a Los Alamos research team is working to understand the detailed mechanisms behind tree mortality.

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