Iconic Forests Reaching Climate Tipping Points in American West, Study Finds
Climate change in the American West may be crossing an ominous threshold, making parts of the region inhospitable for some native pine and fir forests to regrow after wildfires, new research suggests:
As temperatures rise, the hotter, drier air and drier soil conditions are increasingly unsuitable for young Douglas firs and ponderosa pines to take root and thrive in some of the region’s low-elevation forests, scientists write in a study published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Wildfires in these areas could lead to abrupt ecosystem changes, from forest to non-forest, that would otherwise take decades to centuries, the study says.
“Once a certain threshold was crossed, then the probability of tree establishment decreased rapidly,” said Kimberley Davis, a researcher at the University of Montana and lead author of the study. “The climate conditions are just a lot less suitable for regeneration.”
Climate change is leading to unpredictable ecosystem disruption for migratory birds
“Climates have natural variation and we’re moving rapidly into territory where the magnitude of climate change will consistently exceed this variation,” says lead author and Cornell Lab researcher Frank La Sorte.
“There will be no historic precedent for these new climates, and migratory bird populations will increasingly encounter ‘novel’ climatic conditions. The most likely outcome will be a period of ecological disruption as migratory birds and other species try to respond or adapt to these new conditions…”
How much carbon can forests absorb? Michigan research in partnership with land trusts and conservation groups
Leelanau Conservancy and Little Traverse Conservancy have partnered with a number of local watershed groups and the University of Michigan to create Nature Change—Conversations about Climate and Conservation.
In this short video, forest ecology researcher Dr. Luke Nave (University of Michigan Biological Station) describes recently completed research to quantify the amount of carbon captured from the atmosphere by areas of reforestation throughout the United States. In referring to reforesting land, Nave says that includes areas that once were cultivated and areas that experience forms of deforestation such as fire.
Using well-documented research data and direct measurements, Nave and his colleagues focused only on those areas that are being reforested…
‘Whole thing is unravelling’: climate change reshaping Australia’s forests (There are warning signs here in the U.S. too)
Australia’s forests are being reshaped by climate change as droughts, heatwaves, rising temperatures, and bushfires drive ecosystems towards collapse, ecologists have told Guardian Australia.
Trees are dying, canopies are getting thinner, and the rate that plants produce seeds is falling. Ecologists have long predicted that climate change would have major consequences for Australia’s forests. Now they believe those impacts are unfolding…
Planting milkweed won’t be enough
There’s been some good news about Monarch’s recently, yet even so, scientists have stated that climate change if left unchecked will cause irreparable harm.
It will be important to teach your community that planting milkweed may help in the very near term but the end game involves reducing pesticides and slowing down climate change.
It’s not too late to save them, but it’s a question of whether we will make the effort, scientists say…
World’s biggest terrestrial carbon sinks are found in young forests
More than half of the carbon sink in the world’s forests is in areas where the trees are relatively young—under 140 years old—rather than in tropical rainforests, research at the University of Birmingham shows.
Dr. Tom Pugh, of the Birmingham Institute of Forest Research (BIFoR), explained: “It’s important to get a clear sense of where and why this carbon uptake is happening, because this helps us to make targeted and informed decisions about forest management…”
These climate pollutants don’t last long, but they’re wreaking havoc on the Arctic
“When people talk about climate change, the focus is often on carbon dioxide, and for good reason. The CO2 pumped into the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels today will hang around for centuries, building up over time and continuing to warm the planet.
It isn’t the only culprit, though. Mixing in are other pollutants that only stick around for a few weeks or years but pack a powerful punch while they’re there. And the Arctic, where the average temperature is rising twice as fast as the rest of the world, has become the unfortunate laboratory where researchers can best measure their impact…”
Arctic bogs hold another global warming risk that could spiral out of control
Increasing spring rains in the Arctic could double the increase in methane emissions from the region by hastening the rate of thawing in permafrost, new research suggests.
The findings are cause for concern because spring rains are anticipated to occur more frequently as the region warms. The release of methane, a short-lived climate pollutant more potent than carbon dioxide over the short term, could induce further warming in a vicious cycle that would be difficult if not impossible to stop…
The most dangerous climate feedback loop is speeding up
The new study released on January 16th of this year is the first “globally consistent assessment of permafrost temperature.” Four dozen researchers from around the globe found that the ground temperature tens of feet below the surface “increased in all permafrost zones on Earth”—in the Northern Hemisphere, the mountains, and Antarctica…
All hands on deck to understand, predict, prevent abrupt ecological change
“In 2011, Lake Erie turned into a toxic pea soup. One-sixth of the lake harbored a thick and deadly algal bloom that killed fish, closed beaches and struck a blow to Toledo, Ohio’s tourism industry. The bloom was three times larger than any algal bloom ever recorded there.
Then, in 2014, toxic algae suddenly contaminated Toledo’s water supply, preventing half a million people from consuming, cooking or bathing with their tap water…”