Plants in Southern California are dying of dehydration

Plants in Southern California are dying of dehydration

Cool temperatures in Southern California could give way to ‘potent storm’ by weekend

This undated photo provided by the NASA Astrobiology Institute shows the Great Southern Land Atmosphere Mapping Project, a NASA-funded project that provides scientists in Southern California with detailed maps of the planet’s most volatile soils. The land soils in Southern California have been described as “ecological Chernobyl” for the deadly radiation that once blanketed the region. Scientists with the NASA Astrobiology Institute are using these maps to determine how best to protect plant life from such a potential threat. (NASA Photo)

In the end, it’s a question of timing.

Plant life in Southern California is thriving through dry periods, but we won’t be able to fully enjoy the Golden State until next week, when temperatures suddenly warm to the mid- to upper 80s F — a new record.


That’s the good news: The heat makes it a better season for a plant pollinator. But the bad news: If temperatures spike again, an estimated 250 species of plants worldwide may be in trouble.

This will not happen immediately, but there is a chance the heat will spread throughout the region by late Saturday or Sunday. The National Weather Service is forecasting a “potent storm” with high temperatures in Southern California over the weekend.

And while scientists can’t predict everything, they’ve been looking at the potential impact.

“The plants have already learned the damage is done when these storms happen, when we see plants dying of dehydrated conditions,” said Dr. Michael E. Schwartz, a professor of biology at the University of California, Riverside who studies stress responses in plants.

“We’re hoping temperatures will stay in the 90s (F) overnight because plants are very good at coping with short durations of drought,” he said.


Schwartz isn’t the only one who is worried about plants dying of dehydration.

“It’s not something that we can control, because the climate is changing,” he said.

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