One of the most counterintuitive effects of climate warming is the potential increase in frost damage. Why should frosts increase in a world with higher temperature? In fact, frosts are not expected to increase, but its damaging effect might do. This situation is due to the combination of changes in phenology and temperature variability. Deciduous plants phenology is controlled by a combination of factors, temperature and photoperiod among them. Warmer temperatures mean an earlier initiation of leaf flush, leading to longer growing season, higher carbon capture… However, if leaf phenology starts earlier than late frost events, emerging leaves might suffer severe damage from frosts. In fact, late frosts can defoliate large tracts of forests, leading to leafless trees until late June, when a second leaf-flush initiates. spRING project aims to reconstruct the frequency of late frosts in beech forests, searching wood traits that distinguish late frosts from other stress factors like droughts in annual rings. With this information, we would be able to discern whether late frost events are increasing or not.
Project spRING (CGL2017-87309-P) funded by the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness