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Extra moisture on West Coast allowing climate-sensitive Joshua trees to recover

One of the natural wonders of the world facing threats from climate change may have gotten a fleeting reprieve as a result of extra moisture over the past couple of years.

Populations of the iconic Joshua tree may be showing signs of recovery after several rounds of atmospheric rivers inundated the West Coast -- including California's Mojave and Colorado deserts -- with record amounts of precipitation over the past year and a half, experts told ABC News.

Researchers have long warned of the precarious fate of the monocot species, known for their twisted stalks and unusual outlines. By 2070, up to 80% of the population within Joshua Tree National Park could be lost, a paper published in 2019 found.

But while Joshua trees are particularly sensitive to the impacts of climate change, seedlings were seen sprouting from the ground recently, likely due to the abundance of water over the last two years, said Brendan Cummings, conservation director at the Center for Biological Diversity, based in Joshua Tree, California.

The extra precipitation allow the adult trees to better handle the heat due to the additional soil moisture, and there is more likelihood that the younger trees will survive the driest and hottest months, Cummings told ABC News.

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Friday, June 14, 2024