Accurate assessments of forest response to current and future climate and human actions are needed at regional scales. Predicting future impacts on forests will require improved analysis of species-level adaptation, resilience, and vulnerability to mortality. Land system models can be enhanced by creating trait-based groupings of species that better represent climate sensitivity, such as risk of hydraulic failure from drought. This emphasizes the need for more coordinated in situ and remote sensing observations to track changes in ecosystem function, and to improve model inputs, spatio-temporal diagnosis, and predictions of future conditions, including implications of actions to mitigate climate change.