Could Increasing Climate Variability Usher In “The Age of the Mediocre Forest?”

 

dead_spruce_Mt.Mitchell.jpgIn 2001, when large numbers of red spruce trees began dying atop Mt. Mitchell in western North Carolina, U.S Forest Service researchers stepped in to investigate. During the four years before the researchers’ arrival, unusual drought and abnormally high air temperatures combined with acid rain pollution and a rare outbreak of southern pine beetles to wreak havoc in those forests covering the tallest peak in the eastern United States. Some red spruce trees survived through it all, providing a unique opportunity for the researchers to examine the differences between the live and the dead trees. As the significance of these differences became clear, the researchers formulated an idea that could redefine forest health and management in a world with increasing climate variability. Read more in CompassLive...

Pictured: The rust-colored needles of dead red spruce trees are visible across Mt. Mitchell in 2001. Photo by Johnny Boggs.

 

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