Feature

Windfall

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Science  14 Sep 2018:
Vol. 361, Issue 6407, pp. 1064-1065
DOI: 10.1126/science.361.6407.1064

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Summary

When Hurricane Maria swept Puerto Rico a year ago, causing thousands of deaths and vast suffering, it also devastated ecosystems. As they mend, scientists are watching closely. A major focus is El Yunque National Forest in northeastern Puerto Rico, where Maria turned lush forest into ranks of skeletal trees and piles of sticks and destroyed research infrastructure. Now, the devastated forest presents a rare opportunity to explore how tropical forests recover from the extreme weather that is becoming more common as the world warms. Already researchers have seen hints that a warming climate and more frequent storms may make forests slower to recover from damage, jeopardizing their ability to store carbon and restrain further climate change.

  • * Sarah Amandolare is a journalist based in New Paltz, New York.