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Wed Feb 27, 2013, 12:46 PM

NASA: Climate change thins forests in eastern U.S.

Years of drought and high temperatures are thinning forests in the upper Great Lakes and the eastern United States, NASA satellites show.
Nearly 40% of the Mid-Atlantic's forests lost tree canopy cover, ranging from 10% to 15% between 2000 and 2010, according to a NASA study released this week. Other afflicted areas include southern Appalachia, the southeastern coast and to a lesser extent, the Rocky Mountains and the Sierra Nevada.

"There has been a series of summers growing seasons for trees that have been deficient in moisture. When you combine that with higher temperatures, it's stressing the trees," says author Christopher Potter, a research scientist at NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif.

This double whammy is making trees, especially southern pines and the upper Midwest's hardwoods, more vulnerable to insects and new pathogens. "No tree is safe," Potter says.
Climate change is increasing the risk of forest death through wildfires, insect infestations, drought, and disease outbreaks, according to a 1,000-plus-page draft of the third National Climate Assessment, released by the U.S. government in January. The NASA study was done as part of that assessment.

If more trees die, the planet warms more. Trees absorb heat-trapping carbon dioxide emissions and thus can reduce the effects of climate change. In 2010, they absorbed 13% of U.S. emissions, the Environmental Protection Agency says.
Potter's study is based on monthly images from a new series of NASA satellites, launched in 2000. The series' continuous monitoring provides a more detailed picture of changes in forests, wetlands and grasslands over extended periods of time. It shows that in the western parts of Alaska, higher temperatures have helped by expanding the growing season for trees.


http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/02/26/nasa-climate-change-forests-eastern-us/1949133/

6 replies, 982 views

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Reply NASA: Climate change thins forests in eastern U.S. (Original post)
octoberlib Feb 2013 OP
DreamGypsy Feb 2013 #1
octoberlib Feb 2013 #3
RobertEarl Feb 2013 #2
octoberlib Feb 2013 #4
NickB79 Feb 2013 #5
madokie Feb 2013 #6

Response to octoberlib (Original post)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 01:23 PM

1. Christopher Potter works on the NASA-CASA project...

...that's Carnegie Ames Stanford Approach. The website is here:http://geo.arc.nasa.gov/sge/casa/index.html



The research combines analysis of multi-year global data sets derived mainly from satellite observations with simulation models of terrestrial ecosystem processes on local to regional or global scales. The study approach includes analysis of past and present changes in the biosphere's carbon and nitrogen cycles driven by climate and land use, as part of NASA's Earth Science Enterprise.

The research scope also includes studies of Earth's ecosystems as analogs to life on other planets, as part of the NASA program in Astrobiology.

<snip>

One of the main research tools at NASA Ames is a global simulation model that combines multi-year satellite, climate, and other land surface databases to estimate biosphere- atmosphere exchange of energy, water, and trace gases from plants and soils. Fluxes of all major biogenic "greenhouse" gases and reactive tropospheric gases are simulated using the NASA-CASA Model.


Their Latest Results page highlights a project called CASA "Quarterly Indicator of Cover Change" (QUICC):

The QUICC product identifies all land areas that have lost at least 40% of their green vegetation cover over the past year. This level of green canopy loss is commonly associated with major forest wildfires and deforestation events. Confirmation of QUICC accuracy for identifying wildfires throughout the United States is shown in the image examples below from the evaluation year of 2007. Light-blue outlines of the wildfire perimeters (mapped independently by the U. S. Forest Service and the U. S. Geological Survey; www.mtbs.gov, 2008) are nearly all filled-in or centrally located by the QUICC product MODIS pixels areas (in dark-blue) and identified with a significant loss of green vegetation cover during the previous year. These validation images represent a wide variety of climates, elevation, wetland cover, and forest types, over which the QUICC product is equally verified as accurate.

<snip>

Timeliness of the QUICC product will enable organizations that are monitoring forests anywhere in the world with the capacity to respond within weeks or months (rather than years) to threats to protected forest reserves and parks. The proven quality and accuracy of the MODIS VI and QUICC products assure that any locations identified as altered can be trusted, and then subsequently described by local survey techniques as to the actual causes of forest cover loss.




Very cool and practical research, with immediate applications. NASA rocks!

Thanks for the post, octoberlib.


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Response to DreamGypsy (Reply #1)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 01:40 PM

3. Thanks for the info, DreamGypsy! nt

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Response to octoberlib (Original post)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 01:24 PM

2. Yep

I see hundreds of dead trees everyday. Trees are under tremendous stress. One stress is that the forests have been logged. There are very few old-growth areas. Very few big trees. The big trees evolved to deal with stresses and there is no telling what they emitted in their "breathing" to pass along to the forest. That evolution is reaching the end with the lack of big trees.

Another theory, (you knew this had to be coming) is that man made nuclear produced ionizing radiation is also causing stress.

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Response to RobertEarl (Reply #2)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 01:44 PM

4. Very worrisome nt

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Response to octoberlib (Original post)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 06:10 PM

5. This was predicted 12 years ago here in Minnesota

From Jan. 2001, posted by the MN Dept. of Natural Resources:

http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/volunteer/janfeb01/warming.html

Basically, our state's future flora looks to be a whole bunch of open oak and hickory savanna, with the denser Big Woods-style ecosystem of maples, beech, basswood and elm being pushed further and further north into what's now spruce/pine/birch forest. And those North Woods environments will eventually be pushed up past the Canadian border.

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Response to octoberlib (Original post)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 07:35 PM

6. Most if not all of the red oak trees

at our home place have died within the last two years.

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