26 January 2009

Western forest mortality increases

This past week a study was published in Science that reported an increase in tree deaths in American forests. The Washington Post reports some details:
The report, led by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), found that the increase in tree deaths has included trees in a variety of forests, elevations and sizes. Species have included pine, fir, hemlock and other coniferous trees. In addition, the rate of new tree growth has not changed, according to the report in the Jan. 23 issue of Science.
At the same time, they reported, Nature had two papers reporting on impacts of climate change:
Seasons now arrive two days earlier than they used to, one study from scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, and Harvard University concluded. Not only have average worldwide temperatures been rising for the last 50 years, according to the report, but the hottest day of the year has shifted to almost two days earlier.
So will it simply mean that the forest ecology is modestly compromised? Or will it lead to an increase in forest fires? Or will it lead to a significant loss of wildlife species? It will be interesting to watch as evidence mounts.

Maybe you could go to a seminar on a related topic:
Dr. Daniel Bunker, New Jersey Institute of Technology
Thursday, January 29, 2009
“Global change, community composition, and ecosystem functioning.”
4:00 p.m., Alampi Room, Marine and Coastal Sciences

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