MU Researchers Address Climate Issues

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COLUMBIA - Experts from the MU Center for Agroforestry held a symposium Wednesday to outline research that may be able to solve problems posed by recent droughts and floods.

 Shibu Jose, director of the Center for Agroforestry, said the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) declared 2012 the warmest year on record. One of the MU researchers at the symposium also presented a recent Washington University study conducted on the Missouri River at Hermann. That study found that flood stages keep increasing on the Missouri River. 

Jose said agroforestry, which seeks to incorporate trees with agriculture activity, may offer solutions for land managers who have grappled with climate changes. 

Some of the presentations included research on how to create drought-resilient grazing systems, how to design agroforestry systems to create ecosystem resilience.

Researchers also discussed the physiology of root growth under a water deficit and the drought and flood tolerance of alternative energy crops like switchgrass. 

Jason Hubbart, an MU forestry professor, presented research on floodplain attenuation activities. Attenuation is forest activity that limits the severity of flooding.

Hubbart said the course or the meandering of streams should be allowed to run naturally when possible, and that managers should look back centuries on how streams ran their course. 

He also said that re-foresting or conserving flood plain forests and wetlands can ease climate-related problems. 

Hubbart said he will work with the city of Columbia on solutions for the Hinkson Creek flood plain using his findings.