January 27, 2011

New Report Claims Trees are Threatened by Climate Change

A recent study indicates that many tree species are vulnerable to climate change and could disappear if no action is taken soon.

The study, undertaken by the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, suggests that some trees which spread their seeds in the wind will not be able to spread their territory fast enough to keep pace with anticipated climate shifts.  This will be particularly true in areas where surface wind speed is expected to decrease as a product of global warming.

Earlier research had shown that higher concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is likely to trigger the release of increased numbers of seeds from trees.  However, this may not be enough for the trees to save themselves in areas where the wind regime diminishes with climate change.  The balance between these two predicted impacts is itself difficult to estimate in advance.

The study results actually suggest that variations in wind speed will not make as much difference as some scientists had previously thought.  Nevertheless, the research also casts doubt on whether the increase in seed production even coupled with an increase in wind speed would be sufficient for some species to adapt and shift territory fast enough to survive the changes.

Trees which depend of seed wind dispersal for reproduction are common to North America and Eurasia.  The natural conclusion of the report is that human action, sooner rather than later, is required to ensure the survival of some tree species.


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