Scientists have created 'cyberforests' - computer simulation that grows realistic 3D forests down to the branches, leaves and roots of individual trees - to determine how drought, wildfires and other climate-related changes may affect real forests.
The model, called LES, uses computing power to grow 100x100-metre stands of drought and shade tolerant trees that can then be scaled up to actual forest size.
"It is a tool that forest managers can use to create 3D representations of their own forests and simulate what will happen to them in the future," said Nikolay Strigul, assistant professor at Washington State University (WSU) Vancouver in US.
It is the only forest-growing simulator that creates intricate root systems and canopy structures for each tree. Previous forest simulators could either grow one or the other.