A new study shows that western trees in old growth forests are dying-off at an alarming rate due to climate change.These deaths were observed at different altitudes and in different trees from pines to hemlocks. Furthermore, trees are not growing back at a fast enough rate to replace the old growth tree loss.
“The findings are consistent with other well documented, climate-induced ecological changes, including increased wildfire activity since the mid-1980s and bark beetle outbreaks that are occurring at unprecedented levels in western North America forests, including Alaska,” CU-Boulder geography Professor Thomas Veblen to Science Daily.
Researchers ruled out many things that could have contributed to climate change like fires. Trees in Colorado that were effected by the pine beetle outbreak were not used in the data set. The study found that temperatures most likely caused the die-offs.
“Average temperature in the West rose by more than 1° F over the last few decades,” said USGS researcher Phil van Mantgem to Science Daily. “While this may not sound like much, it has been enough to reduce winter snowpack, cause earlier snowmelt, and lengthen the summer drought.”
Trees are absorbing less Carbon Dioxide and tossing more greenhouse gas back into atmosphere, which is a recipe for a warmer globe and more ecological consequences for alpine environments.
ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 26, 2009, from http://www.sciencedaily.com /releases/2009/01/090122141222.htm
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Update: More news about how old growth forest are dying out due to warmer temperatures can be found here: http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?id=out-on-a-limb-global-warm