Climate Change Thinning Western U.S. Forests

According to a new study by the U.S. Geological Survey and researchers at various U.S. universities, trees in the Western U.S. are dying at faster rates, and climate change seems to be the reason.

According to the study, temperatures across the Western states have risen by 0.5-0.9 degrees Fahrenheit every ten years. The warming has resulted in reduced snowfall, less dense winter snow, and earlier spring melting. “Trees are under more drought stress,” said USGS ecologist Nathan Stephenson, a co-author on the study. According to Wired, increased temperatures may be helping bark beetles grow faster, as well as pathogens that feed on trees. 

Michael Goulden, an ecologist at the University of California, Irvine, who was not involved in the research, said in an interview with Wired that: “Something large and important is happening to Western ecosystems, in correlation with climatic shifts.”

Read the full article
Read “Widespread Increase of Tree Mortality Rates in the Western United States” in the journal Science

One thought on “Climate Change Thinning Western U.S. Forests

  1. Tom Engel 01/28/2009 / 11:49 am

    The word “seems” is the most important word in this article. Climate has and will always change…with or without man. As we experience short and long term trends in climate, plant life will adjust and adapt to the changes. This has and will include the death of some species and the establishment of other species. Man’s involvement in the changes in the western forests probably has as much to do with with encroachment, forestry practices, importation of insects and diseases, and water usage (and other issues that have been overlooked or interactions that are not well understood) as it has to do with climate change. As a degreed meteorologist and a scientist, assigning a man made cause to climate change is at best bad science and at the worst a politically driven idealology.

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