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Why are California's giant trees DYING? Scientists rush to save these wooden giants

By Matt Waterson (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
1/26/2015 (2 years ago)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Global warming may be key cause of giant tree death

Long home to venerable ancient Redwoods and massive pines, California may see an end to the giant trees that have been a hallmark of much of the state-especially the northern half.

Many of California's giant trees are dying off, and scientists believe climate change is the primary factor, as smaller trees more adaptable to dryer and warm climates flourish.

Many of California's giant trees are dying off, and scientists believe climate change is the primary factor, as smaller trees more adaptable to dryer and warm climates flourish.

Highlights

By Matt Waterson (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
1/26/2015 (2 years ago)

Published in Green

Keywords: California, Nature, Redwoods, Forests, Science, Green


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Climate change may be the culprit, scientists say in a new report that was published in the science journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. California's big tree population has declined by more than half since the 1930s.

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Many of California

Many of California's giant trees are dying off, and scientists believe climate change is the primary factor, as smaller trees more adaptable to dryer and warm climates flourish.


These trees "contribute disproportionately to forest structure and function, carbon stocks, and the cultural value of the forests," and make up much of California's 46,332 square miles of forest.

California

California's famous Redwood trees are also in danger, thanks to climate change that threatens larger trees.


Trees that are at least two feet in diameter "are declining because of disease, drought, logging and other factors, but what stands out is that this decline is statewide," said the study's lead author, Patrick McIntyre a member of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Salinas valley, heavily wooded in the late 19th or early 20th century.

Salinas valley, heavily wooded in the late 19th or early 20th century.


Logging isn't to blame, as the loss of large trees was not more prevalent in areas that had undergone major lumber harvesting. Water shortages because of the increased temperatures and the diversion of water to the south in the 1930s are the largest cause.

California is known for its forests full of massive pine trees, and large trees in general. But rece

California is known for its forests full of massive pine trees, and large trees in general. But recent global climate changes threaten these massive trees.


"Based on our data, water stress helps to explain the decline of large trees," said McIntyre. "Areas experiencing declines in large-tree density also experienced increased water stress since the 1930s."

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Evidence that a change in climate is the culprit is the composition of California's forests. Oaks thrive in warm and dry periods, but the big pines-once a major part of the state's forests-that love the cooler and wetter weather are disappearing.

Many of California

Many of California's giant trees are dying off, and scientists believe climate change is the primary factor, as smaller trees more adaptable to dryer and warm climates flourish.


Droughts also are a greater danger to larger trees, likely because of their greater water needs, though scientists have not looked into the current drought, because much of the census data which the researchers used was collected prior to the 2011 start of this drought.

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