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.”