Dire drought ahead, may lead to massive tree death

Wednesday, October 17, 2012
By Paul Martin

Terradaily.com
Oct 16, 2012

Evidence uncovered by a University of Tennessee, Knoxville, geography professor suggests recent droughts could be the new normal. This is especially bad news for our nation’s forests. For most, to find evidence that recent years’ droughts have been record-breaking, they need not look past the withering garden or lawn.

For Henri Grissino-Mayer he looks at the rings of trees over the past one thousand years. He can tell you that this drought is one of the worst in the last 600 years in America’s Southwest and predicts worst are still to come.

Grissino-Mayer collaborated with a team of scientists led by Park Williams of Los Alamos National Laboratory and others from the U.S. Geological Survey, University of Arizona and Columbia University to evaluate how drought affects productivity and survival in conifer trees in the Southwestern U.S. Their findings are published this month in “Nature Climate Change.”

Tree rings act as time capsules for analyzing climate conditions because they grow more slowly in periods of drought and the size of rings they produce vary accordingly. Widely spaced rings indicate wetter seasons and narrow rings indicate drier seasons.

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