21 Jan '15, 5pm

Future forests to be smaller, less majestic

To the list of ways climate change is slowly but surely rewriting the world as we know it, add “making forests less awesome.” A new study suggests that since the 1930s California has lost half of its biggest trees — those with a trunk over two feet in diameter — even in forests protected from logging and development. The study corroborates earlier findings that Yosemite’s pines are growing to smaller average sizes. The researchers believe climate change is a major factor. Dwindling snowpack and rising temperatures mean plants have unreliable water supplies during the dry season, and they also lose water at a higher rate. Less water means trees aren’t growing as big. The study, which surveyed 46,000 square miles of Golden State woodlands, found especially steep losses in Southern California’s forests, where the water deficit was most serious. But even tracts along the state...

Full article: http://grist.org/living/future-forests-to-be-smaller-less...

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