Forests Protect the Climate. A Future With More Storms Would Mean Trouble.

Read the full story in the New York Times.

When Hurricane Maria walloped Puerto Rico in September, it ripped off roofs, flooded neighborhoods and all but destroyed the island’s power grid, leaving a humanitarian catastrophe that Puerto Ricans are still recovering from months later.

But Maria took its toll on nature as well. Its winds of up to 155 miles an hour wrecked thousands of acres of trees, including much of El Yunque National Forest, 28,000 acres of lush tropical rain forest east of the capital, San Juan.

To a group of researchers hiking down a steep, slick mountain trail in El Yunque recently, the destruction was readily apparent. Led by María Uriarte, an ecologist at Columbia University, they were here to study the damage and better understand how an expected increase in extreme weather may undermine the ability of forests to aid the climate.

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