Yellow-Cedar Tree Decline Is Linked To Climate Change

Posted: Jan 9 2017, 6:32am CST | by , Updated: Jan 9 2017, 8:31pm CST, in News | Latest Science News

 

Yellow-Cedar Tree Decline is Linked to Climate Change
Credit: U.S. Forest Service
 

Climate warming is contributing to snow cover loss that leads to colder soil and subsequent tree death.

Yellow cedar is a valuable tree that has been dying by thousands of acres for the past 100 years throughout Southeast Alaska and British Colombia. With the long history of persistent decline, the tree has already been listed as a threatened or endangered species.

A new study suggests that the large-scale tree death, called yellow-cedar decline is attributed to increasing global temperatures. Researchers have observed that 7 percent of yellow cedar range is destroyed due to freezing roots. The warming temperatures reduce winter snowpacks which leads to colder soil and subsequent tree death. 

"Lack of snow is only going to become more and more prevalent.”Lead author Brian Buma, from University of Alaska Southeast said in a statement.

Yellow cedar has both commercial and cultural uses. The tree grows slowly and lasts for around 700 to 1,200 years. Because of its durability and resistance to insect, it is often used to make heavy structures likes homes and boat.

The yellow-cedar tree began to decline in about 1880 and researchers suspect that it could become a casualty of climate warming over the next 50 years. Researchers have looked at a number of risk factors associated with tree decline  over the years but they have found that climate change is actually wracking havoc on the tree species. Yellow-cedar decline is impacting around 600,000 acres of forests covering Alaska and British Columbia.

The effects of climate change on yellow cedar has prompted researchers to investigate how other shallow-rooted trees such as sugar maple and yellow birch are responding to the change. However, no other forest tree species has been studied as extensively as yellow-cedar so far.

“Projections are that other species could be negatively impacted, but other species, at least in some places, could be positively impacted.” Buma said.

The research is aiming to provide a better understanding of the cause of yellow-cedar decline. It can also help develop conservation strategies to mitigate the effects and to ensure the long-term health of tree species. 

 

 

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Hira Bashir covers daily affairs around the world.

 

 

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