The 2018 European heatwave led to stem dehydration but not to consistent growth reductions in forests

Roberto L. Salomón, Richard L. Peters, Roman Zweifel, Ute G.W. Sass-Klaassen, Annemiek I. Stegehuis, Marko Smiljanic, Rafael Poyatos, Flurin Babst, Emil Cienciala, Patrick Fonti, Bas J.W. Lerink, Marcus Lindner, Jordi Martinez-Vilalta, Maurizio Mencuccini, Gert Jan Nabuurs, Ernst van der Maaten, Georg von Arx, Andreas Bär, Linar Akhmetzyanov, Daniel BalanzateguiMichal Bellan, Jörg Bendix, Daniel Berveiller, Miroslav Blaženec, Vojtěch Čada, Vinicio Carraro, Sébastien Cecchini, Tommy Chan, Marco Conedera, Nicolas Delpierre, Sylvain Delzon, Ľubica Ditmarová, Jiri Dolezal, Eric Dufrêne, Johannes Edvardsson, Stefan Ehekircher, Alicia Forner, Jan Frouz, Andrea Ganthaler, Vladimír Gryc, Aylin Güney, Ingo Heinrich, Rainer Hentschel, Pavel Janda, Marek Ježík, Hans Peter Kahle, Simon Knüsel, Jan Krejza, Łukasz Kuberski, Jiří Kučera, François Lebourgeois, Martin Mikoláš, Radim Matula, Stefan Mayr, Walter Oberhuber, Nikolaus Obojes, Bruce Osborne, Teemu Paljakka, Roman Plichta, Inken Rabbel, Cyrille B.K. Rathgeber, Yann Salmon, Matthew Saunders, Tobias Scharnweber, Zuzana Sitková, Dominik Florian Stangler, Krzysztof Stereńczak, Marko Stojanović, Katarína Střelcová, Jan Světlík, Miroslav Svoboda, Brian Tobin, Volodymyr Trotsiuk, Josef Urban, Fernando Valladares, Hanuš Vavrčík, Monika Vejpustková, Lorenz Walthert, Martin Wilmking, Ewa Zin, Junliang Zou, Kathy Steppe*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

69 Citations (Scopus)


Heatwaves exert disproportionately strong and sometimes irreversible impacts on forest ecosystems. These impacts remain poorly understood at the tree and species level and across large spatial scales. Here, we investigate the effects of the record-breaking 2018 European heatwave on tree growth and tree water status using a collection of high-temporal resolution dendrometer data from 21 species across 53 sites. Relative to the two preceding years, annual stem growth was not consistently reduced by the 2018 heatwave but stems experienced twice the temporary shrinkage due to depletion of water reserves. Conifer species were less capable of rehydrating overnight than broadleaves across gradients of soil and atmospheric drought, suggesting less resilience toward transient stress. In particular, Norway spruce and Scots pine experienced extensive stem dehydration. Our high-resolution dendrometer network was suitable to disentangle the effects of a severe heatwave on tree growth and desiccation at large-spatial scales in situ, and provided insights on which species may be more vulnerable to climate extremes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number28
Pages (from-to)28
JournalNature communications
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 10 Jan 2022


  • Climate
  • Climate Change
  • Dehydration
  • Droughts
  • Ecology
  • Ecosystem
  • Forests
  • Infrared Rays
  • Norway
  • Picea
  • Pinus sylvestris
  • Soil
  • Trees
  • Water


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