Dueling press releases – which is it: dead or weakened?

It’s AGU week in San Francisco, of course that means the annual barrage of science by press release. I was struck by this juxtaposition of two press releases at Eurekalert this morning. Note the headlines of the screencap below:

Here are the two releases in full:

The top one:

Contact: Gail Gallessich
gail.g@ia.ucsb.edu
805-893-7220
University of California – Santa Barbara

Team of scientists predicts continued death of forests in southwestern US due to climate change

(Santa Barbara, Calif.) –– If current climate projections hold true, the forests of the Southwestern United States face a bleak future, with more severe –– and more frequent –– forest fires, higher tree death rates, more insect infestation, and weaker trees. The findings by university and government scientists are published in this week’s issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

“Our study shows that regardless of rainfall going up or down, forests in the Southwest U.S. are very sensitive to temperature –– in fact, more sensitive than any forests in the country,” said first author Park Williams, postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Geography at UC Santa Barbara. “Forests in the Southwest are most sensitive to higher temperatures in the spring and summer, and those are the months that have been warming the fastest in this area.”

Past forest studies have shown that warmer temperatures are associated with wildfires and bark beetle outbreaks. “We found that up to 18 percent of forest area in the Southwest –– millions of acres –– has experienced mortality due to severe wildfires and bark beetle outbreaks in the last 20 years,” said Williams.

Co-author Joel Michaelsen, a professor of geography at UCSB, said: “In order to carry out this research project, Park Williams assembled a very comprehensive data set of over 1,000 tree ring chronologies from all across the United States.” Michaelsen is a dendroclimatologist –– a scientist who studies climate using analysis of tree rings.

“Instead of using the chronologies to reconstruct past climate patterns, as is usually done in dendroclimatic work, the relationships between growth and climate were used to study possible impacts of future climate change on forest health,” said Michaelsen. “One noteworthy finding was that tree growth throughout the Southwestern U.S., while quite sensitive to precipitation variations, is also negatively impacted by warmer temperatures. This is an important result, because predictions of future warming in the region are considerably more certain than any predictions of precipitation change.”

Researchers found that historic patterns of vegetation change, insect outbreaks, fire activity, runoff, and erosion dynamics show that landscapes often respond gradually to incremental changes in climate and land-use stressors until a threshold is reached, at which time there may be dramatic landscape changes, such as tree die-offs or episodes of broad-scale fire or erosion. They also found that the stressors that contribute to tree mortality tipping points can develop over landscape and even sub-continental scales.

Co-author Christopher Still, an associate professor of geography at UCSB, said: “These predicted large-scale changes in forest cover and composition (i.e., types of tree species present) will have large implications for everything from snowpack and the river flows that our society depends on, to the intensity and frequency of fires, to the visual appearance of these landscapes that drives much of the tourism in this region.”

Added co-author Craig D. Allen of the U.S. Geological Survey: “Such big, fast changes in Southwest forest vegetation could have significant effects on a wide range of ecosystem goods and services, from watershed protection and timber supplies to biodiversity and recreation. These emerging vulnerabilities present increasingly clear challenges for managers of southwestern forests to develop strategies to mitigate or adapt to the coming changes, in order to sustain these forested ecosystems and their benefits into the future.”

Forests help retain rainwater and keep it from flowing down mountains immediately, noted Williams in explaining the importance of forests to landscapes and rivers. “When forests disappear,” he said, “water runs downhill more quickly and takes the upper layers of soil with it.”

According to Williams, the erosion makes it harder for future generations of trees to establish themselves and makes it more difficult for people to capture storm water as it flows from the mountains. In addition, erosion increases the amount of sediment flowing in rivers and settling in lakes, and causes water to remain in the forest long after the rain.

The paper also points to the many implications of these changes for future management and use of Southwest forests.

###

The scientific article is part of a special PNAS feature edition called “Climate Change and Water in Southwestern North America.”

Note to editors: Park Williams is available by e-mail at williams@geog.ucsb.edu. Christopher Still is available at (805) 450-3070, or by e-mail at cstill@geog.ucsb.edu. For downloadable images see: http://www.ia.ucsb.edu/pa/display.aspx?pkey=2387

The American Geophysical Union (AGU) will hold a press conference on these findings at 5 p.m. today at the Moscone West Building, room 300, in San Francisco. Park Williams and other scientists will present results. To register for the press conference, please contact The AGU at agupressconfs@gmail.com.

================================================================

The bottom one:

Contact: Sherri Eng
sleng@fs.fed.us
510-559-6327
USDA Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Research Station

Drought and rising temperatures weaken southwest forests

ALBANY, Calif.—Forests in the southwestern United States are changing and will face reduced growth if temperatures continue to rise and precipitation declines during this century, according to a study conducted by a team of scientists from the U.S. Forest Service; University of California, Santa Barbara; U.S. Geological Survey; and University of Arizona. Their findings were released today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) special issue on climate change.

Using tree-ring data and climate models, the team determined that rising temperatures and declining precipitation has led to an overall lower fitness of forests in the Southwest. This weakening of forest health has led to the trees’ inability to survive wildfires and stave off bark beetle attacks. Fire and bark beetles caused high levels of mortality in 14-18 percent of forest areas in the Southwest, according to the scientists, who examined the tree rings of piñon pine, ponderosa pine and Douglas fir.

“These results have been observed previously on a case-by-case basis, but our demonstration of the pervasive effects of warming and drought should better enable water and land managers to prepare for climate adaptation in coming decades,” says Connie Millar, a research climate ecologist with the U.S. Forest Service’s Pacific Southwest Research Station, who co-authored the study.

Scientists analyzed annual tree-ring width data from 853 tree populations located throughout the continental United States. Of those, 235 samples represented trees located in Arizona and New Mexico. These samples were compared to each other in order to identify trends on how certain climatic conditions affect tree growth.

The projected continuing decline of these forests could mean significant ecosystem changes if the Southwestern forests continue to be impacted by wildfires and insect attacks. Drier and hotter climate conditions will continue to favor shrublands, chaparral and other invasive species.

These findings may be useful in helping forest managers make key decisions about how to adapt to climate change. The study highlighted the most vulnerable areas and suggested fuels treatment, focused fire-suppression efforts, intensive use of insect-aggregating hormones, and early detection-rapid response for invasives elimination as ways to protect high-priority areas.

The protection and preservation of forests in the Southwest is particularly important because they help maintain the area’s watershed which feeds into the Colorado River. An altered hydrologic regime could cause a cascade of effects on everything—and everyone—dependent on the river’s water supply.

###

The study, “Forest Responses to Increasing Aridity and Warmth in the Southwestern United States” will be available at: www.pnas.org/site/misc/special.shtml

The Pacific Southwest Research Station is headquartered in Albany, Calif. The station develops and communicates science needed to sustain forest ecosystems and other benefits to society. It has laboratories and research centers in California, Hawaii, and the United States-affiliated Pacific Islands and employs about 50 scientists. www.fs.fed.us/psw/.

=================================================================

Obviously, these two gals never talk to each other, but the result is comical. With such dueling messages, is it any wonder the public is getting battle fatigued?

About these ads
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

52 Responses to Dueling press releases – which is it: dead or weakened?

  1. Jeremy says:

    Too bad third article wasnt about the increase in earths biomass that has been measured, then we might have people really tuning out science reporting.

  2. A C Osborn says:

    They should worry, they are both being paid by the Taxpayer.

  3. jorgekafkazar says:

    Jeremy says: “Too bad third article wasnt about the increase in earths biomass that has been measured, then we might have people really tuning out science reporting.”

    The third article is already scheduled for publication. It states that the first two are in error, that it’s much, much “worse than we thought.”

  4. Anonymous Howard says:

    Seriously?

    Press release one:

    [T]he forests of the Southwestern United States face a bleak future, with more severe –– and more frequent –– forest fires, higher tree death rates, more insect infestation, and weaker trees… Past forest studies have shown that warmer temperatures are associated with wildfires and bark beetle outbreaks.

    Press release two:

    This weakening of forest health has led to the trees’ inability to survive wildfires and stave off bark beetle attacks. Fire and bark beetles caused high levels of mortality in 14-18 percent of forest areas in the Southwest.

    Both studies say pretty much exactly the same thing (lower tree health, higher tree mortality), and you’re struck by slight editorial differences in the titles of the press releases?

    (Also: “gals”?)

  5. DirkH says:

    I though it was WiFi that kills trees?

  6. Pat Moffitt says:

    Forests and the larger ecosystem in which it survives is incredibly complex. Using temperature/precipitation for forest health predictions is like using CO2 as the control knob for climate. At best a partial explanation and at worst disingenuous.

  7. petehodges says:

    what drought in the southwest?

    that was so 90’s

  8. DesertYote says:

    What a load of BS! Drought in the SW is ALWAYS associated with global cooling. Higher global temperatures always results in wetter conditions. N.B. the word global. Local daytime temps follow humidity, so that more rain will result in lower daytime highs, less rain, higher daytime highs. Local daytime temps in the SW US do not follow Average Global Temps. These charlatans are playing a shell game with the data. BTW, that whole transpiration thing is a bunch of nonsense concocted by NASA propagandists who have never visited the desert and know nothing about how it really works.

    The new greeny focus will be on Drought because they are expecting global temps to be going down. They have got the ignorant to associate Drought with Global Warming. When the regime is Hot and Wet, they scream about the temps but ignore the rainfall (unless its a disastrous flood), but when the regime is Cold and Dry, they will chatter about the drought and ignore the temps.

    These press releases are part of laying a foundation for an orchestrated propaganda campaign.

  9. bobbyj0708 says:

    “Using tree-ring data and climate models, the team determined that rising temperatures and declining precipitation has led to an overall lower fitness of forests in the Southwest.”

    The conclusions are based upon methods that I have no faith in whatsoever – dendroclimatology and computer models.

  10. ah-ha! says:

    i’ll tell you what’s up with that – it means the southern forests are A-okay!

  11. Jeff L says:

    “If current climate projections hold true”

    Nice starting sentence – caveat on everything stated after that.

    … and if the projections don’t hold true, well, then I guess this research has no value.

  12. Richard Keen says:

    IF current climate projections hold true…
    IF temperatures continue to rise…
    IF the climate returns to that of the Carboniferous…
    IF a flaming asteroid strikes the earth…
    IF the universes collapses back into a singularity…
    Lots of big IFs that ain’t.

  13. Pat Moffitt says:

    Perhaps the more important read is another PNAS paper “Complex Systems: From Chemistry to Systems Biology Special Feature” PNAS 2009 106: 6433 which cautions those attempting to describe complex systems. From the introductory perspective:
    “There is great interest in complex systems in chemistry, biology, engineering, physics, and gene networks, among others. The complexity comes from the fact that in many systems there are a large number of variables, many connections among the variables including feedback loops, and many, usually nonlinear, equations of motion, or kinetic and transport equations. “Many” is a relative term; a properly interacting system of just three variables can show deterministic chaos, a complex behavior indeed. For the natural scientist and the engineer, nearly all their systems are complex. Many problems still resist the arguments of symmetry, averaging, timescale separation, and covariation that often underlie complexity reductions.”

    Note the PNAS climate/forest link uses but two variables -temperature and aridity- to describe forest health (there are many more). With three variables – we acknowledge deterministic chaos a state where things can be determined in principle but are totally unpredictable in practice.

  14. MinB says:

    The suppression of natural forest fires over the last 100 years has led to overcrowded forests, weaker trees, more infestations, and more severe fires now. Past logging also has led to revegetation into single age, single species stands which are more susceptible to disease. Amazing they make no mention of these well quantified factors.

  15. 1DandyTroll says:

    Right so it’s climate change. Is it global climate change or local climate change? Is it unnatural?

    Precipitation for California, itself, according to EMWD, went from about 86 inches in ’76 to, about, 127 inches in ’99, however in ’95 it was up to about 255 inches though.

    Between ’72 and ’02 land usage for orchards and vineyards doubled or more. Also low level irrigation went up more ‘an 30%, all according to water.ca.gov.

    The population of California grew by about 14 million between ’70 and ’00, and that’s like spawning the whole population of Holland in 30 years. And this is not accounting for illegal aliens would become problematic if they are sufficient in numbers for the area, I mean a couple of thousand would probably not register in the statistics but California has a couple of millions unregistered and unaccounted for that would probably show up in the use of water usage, drainage, sewage use, et cetera infrastructure since poor people don’t tend to go in to the deep wilderness and what not but they do tend to become subjects of “plantation owners” so to speak who, due to cheap labor, can further their fields and thereby drain more and use more water, and adding to the density of the rural local population which tax the local infrastructure without adding tax’ to invest in more infrastructure.

    So essentially it still is a drainage problem for everyone involved. :p

  16. Robuk says:

    If current climate projections hold true,

    I wonder which data set they used.

    I don`t suppose for one moment they have taken the temperature from rural stations in the Southwest over the past 100 years or so just to check whether these projections are correct and that temperatures are actually increasing in the study area.

  17. Mike D. says:

    …possible impacts of future climate change on forest health…

    That speculation is founded on the corrupt GCM’s perpetrated by the post-normal pseudo-scientists exposed by Climategate. The forest models described above are based on hockey-stick GCM’s and none of them have been, or indeed can be, validated by real world data.

    This is yet another example of the corruption of all the environmental sciences by neo-fascists whose goals are not “forest health” but acquisition of money, territory, and power at the expense of science, rationality, the economy, and fundamental human rights. Interestingly, the radical Left who gleefully present the findings above recommend catastrophic incineration of all forests today, as a precaution against the “projected” forest fires of Thermageddon. Burn baby burn.

    But you already knew that…

  18. UK John says:

    One has “if” as the first word, the other has “if” in the first sentence, so after begining with that statement of scientific certainty, you could say almost anything!

    I won’t be taking much notice.

  19. Ed Caryl says:

    There is great variability in southwestern US rainfall on decadel time scales, but no longterm trend.

    http://geochange.er.usgs.gov/sw/changes/natural/diaz/

    Fire suppression has more to do with Pine Beetle infestation than anything else. Modern forestry practice encourages spread.

    http://www.ext.colostate.edu/pubs/insect/05528.html

    I wish these people would spend five minutes studying the subject before spreading this warmist drivel.

  20. Martin C says:

    The take I got from the articles, is that the first one says that REGARDLESS of rainfall, the higher temps weaken the forest. The second says that increased temps AND reduced rainfall weaken the forests ( . . . gee, who would have thought the second one . . .sarc).

    I live in Arizona (the Phoenix area), and my understanding has always been that the overall drought conditions we have had the past many years is the primary cause of ‘weaker’ trees, and the temperature is a non-issue. The drought conditions did stress the trees, allowing the infestation of the bark beetles, which did kill a lot of trees.

    And the whole issue of ‘squelch every fire’ for many decades (not just in Arizona, all over the west) allowed such a density of trees, that with the drought and bark beetle issues, forest fires could easily ( and did) become huge conflagrations that were a lot harder to control, and burned over a larger area.

  21. James Sexton says:

    Boy, so much to laugh at, so little time……..“Our study shows that regardless of rainfall going up or down, forests in the Southwest U.S. are very sensitive to temperature ––”

    lol, oh, yeh, right, in the N.H. temp has gone up 0.2 deg. C in the last 20 years. I’m not sure about the pine trees in the SW, but ours in KS, seem to do OK with a temp swing of over 20 degrees daily. The authors state forest fires kill the trees, then they assert that rainfall isn’t relevant? Forest fires are only caused by heat? Wow, lets alert some park rangers, I’m sure they’ll be glad to know this tidbit.

  22. I think these people would serve us all just a bit better if they spent more time and effort looking at the past and a lot less trying to forecast the future with what we all know to be unreliable models.

  23. JohnS says:

    Once again the forest mortality story makes is featured at WUWT, and once again the tendency of the commentary is to blow it off. I’m intimately familiar with the issue in the Interior West and I can tell you two things:

    1) Western forests (to include much of western Canada) have taken an impressive hit during the past decade. I never use the term “unprecedented”, but it is a significant impact by any measure.
    2) Despite the certitude expressed by some scientists about the forest’s future, only time will tell. We all have our guesses (or hypotheses) as to what the future holds, based on our knowledge of past and present events, but the guesses are only as good as our ability to predict the driving factors (trends in climate, bugs, etc.).

    Anthony, please drop me a note if you’re interested in an objective, data-based story on this. There’s more to it than meets the eye through the press release lens.

    JohnS

  24. Al Gored says:

    JohnS says:
    December 14, 2010 at 1:05 pm

    “I’m intimately familiar with the issue in the Interior West and I can tell you two things:

    1) Western forests (to include much of western Canada) have taken an impressive hit during the past decade.”

    Well, I am very familiar with western forests too so let’s get to some details. The usual AGW poster child is the mountain pine beetle but the real cause beneath those recent epidemics is the ‘Smokey the Bear’ effect – fire suppression which has allowed the creation of huge areas of suitable beetle habitat – mature pines – to grow. This is particularly obvious in the case of the lodgepole pine, but it is the same story for all impacted species.

    Yes, the warmer winters did allow these beetles to survive but this recent epidemic could NEVER have happened without that vast man-made supply of beetle habitat.

    And, by the way, in British Columbia that story is over because most of the mature pine forests have already been killed off. But in 60 to 80 years the same scenario could develop if foresters make the same mistakes.

    The second AGW poster child is ‘more intense fires’ which are just another Smokey the Bear effect which has produced huge fuel build ups. That is actually most obvious in the brush fires in California. The Native Californians used fire as their primary land mangement tool and the current fire-prone fuel build ups are a modern phenomenon.
    When the Spanish arrived in California the landscape was very different.

    Native North Americans used fire in all habitats where there was combustible materials, which means that fire played a much larger role in the ‘natural’ environment than popular mythology tells us.

    So, John, I hope you are not going to tell the mountain pine beetle story…

  25. lOKKI says:

    But, But – Global Warming is getting WORSE:

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/40662796/ns/us_news-environment/

    Antarctic sea ice melting as ocean heat rises

    Global warming is sneaky. For more than a century it has been hiding large amounts of excess heat in the world’s deep seas. Now that heat is coming to the surface again in one of the worst possible places: Antarctica.

    New analyses of the heat content of the waters off Western Antarctic Peninsula are now showing a clear and exponential increase in warming waters undermining the sea ice, raising air temperatures, melting glaciers and wiping out entire penguin colonies.
    …What the rising water heat means, he said, is that even if humanity got organized and soon stopped emitting greenhouse gases, there is already too much heat in the oceans to stop a lot of impacts — like the melting of a huge amount of Antarctic ice.

    “There’s the potential that we’re locked into long term sea level rise for a long time,” Martinson told Discovery News. Martinson presented his latest ocean heat results on Monday at the meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco.

    See?

  26. Richard Sharpe says:

    Al Gored said:

    Native North Americans used fire in all habitats where there was combustible materials, which means that fire played a much larger role in the ‘natural’ environment than popular mythology tells us.

    However, Humans have only been in North America for something like 15,000 years. What were things like before that?

  27. Rhoda R says:

    What kind of Antartic suboceanic volcanic activity is there and is it more active than usual?

  28. James of the West says:

    NEWSFLASH brought to you by the SARC channel:

    Scientists discover in late 2010 that trees with less water will have less growth.

    OMG!

    Scientists also predict that trees stressed by long term drought may die if the drought continues for too long.

    Could it really be true?

    LOL

  29. DesertYote says:

    Richard Sharpe says:
    December 14, 2010 at 2:45 pm

    Al Gored said:

    Native North Americans used fire in all habitats where there was combustible materials, which means that fire played a much larger role in the ‘natural’ environment than popular mythology tells us.

    However, Humans have only been in North America for something like 15,000 years. What were things like before that?
    ####

    Covered in ice! Sheesh …

  30. Pat Moffitt says:

    Richard Sharpe says: “However, Humans have only been in North America for something like 15,000 years. What were things like before that?”

    Cold with a lot of ice. Then warm then cold, then warm then cold, then warm then cold, then warm, warmer and warmer yet……..with a lot of continents wandering around the globe and periodically bumping into each other or splitting apart.

  31. Harold Pierce Jr says:

    Richard Sharpe says on December 14, 2010 at 2:45 pm
    Al Gored said:

    Native North Americans used fire in all habitats where there was combustible materials, which means that fire played a much larger role in the ‘natural’ environment than popular mythology tells us.

    However, Humans have only been in North America for something like 15,000 years. What were things like before that?

    Lightning strikes start the vast majority of wild fires. The major mechanisn for control of bark beetles is fire. In particular, lodgepole pine has very thin bark and it doesn’t take much heat to kill beetle larva in late spring or early summer.

    Fire is important for regeneration of lodgepole pine. The heat-sensitive cones require high heat to melt the resin so the scales can open allowing seeds to drop to ground which is now mineral enriched from the ashes of the burned trees. The heat sensitive cones can hang on the branches a great many years. The trees have regular cones with a 2 year life cycle. Lodgepole pine is one of the few pines that have heat sensistive (serotinous) cones.

    In BC, there has been no massive forest fires in the beetle kill zones. Eventually the standing grey trees fall down and this results in an enormous amount of fuel on the ground. If a fire starts in stands of downed trees, it burns so hot that all organic carbon including that of living organisms is burned off. Regeneration of the pine forest is greatly retarded because all the seeds for the heat-sensitive cones or new seedlings from these are incinerated.

  32. Esther Cook says:

    yawn. If the climate projections hold true, it will be the first time that they did.

  33. Jon Hutto says:

    I can tell you from personal experience that in Arkansas the last several decades, some evergreens(pines) have not naturally grown back, and are being taken over by leafy green trees. This is actually a good thing, since leafy trees support a wider range of wildlife.

    much of the Forrest area are controlled by logging industry, and they like pines for various industrial uses, but I’m talking about the natural growth areas of the state.

  34. Ted Gray says:

    Richard Sharpe says:
    December 14, 2010 at 2:45 pm

    Al Gored said:

    Native North Americans used fire in all habitats where there was combustible materials, which means that fire played a much larger role in the ‘natural’ environment than popular mythology tells us.

    However, Humans have only been in North America for something like 15,000 years. What were things like before that?
    Richard.
    This is a one word answer.
    ICE

  35. Brian H says:

    Pat M;
    Good response, but a bridge too far! Wandering continents don’t move perceptibly in 15,000 yrs., other than the occasional twitch and earthquake or volcano around the edges. Even 15,000,000 years only gets you moderate relocation, and the rise and fall of a mountain range or two. You need about 10X more than that for serious bashing and smashing!
    ;)

  36. They ignore the major pine beetle outbreak in the late 1970s-1980s and the other factors related to the outbreaks. See: http://www.appinsys.com/GlobalWarming/PineBeetle.htm

    For Colorado River area see: http://www.appinsys.com/GlobalWarming/ColoradoRiver.htm

  37. Jason says:

    Both press releases purposefully ignore the effects of management on forests. Other commenters have mentioned (with varying degrees of accuracy) the effects of past management on fuel loading and the susceptibility of forests to beetle attack. Other factors to consider include the introduction of nonative ungulates and states producing elk and deer herds much larger than presettlement levels. Some of the statistics that will be trumpeted to “prove” their point have to be studied carefully as well, the most difficult one being fire. Past fire suppression has, indeed, increased fuel loads and led to larger, more difficult fires than the agencies were once accustomed to. In response their has been a concerted effort to reintroduce fire in order to reduce fuel loads and produce more early-succesionnal vegetation. When fires are set they don’t count in the wildfire statistics, but there is a whole other category for natural fires that are managed for the benefits they provide. These have been called prescribed natural fire, fire for resource benefit, wildland fire use and a host of other names. As best I can tell the F.S. managers keep changing the name searching for something that doesn’t make it look like they should be held responsible when things go awry.

    Here in Utah we have had three years of very low fire activity (after some doozies – especially 2007). This year would have had the least acres burned of all, but for the Twitchell Canyon fire, which burned over 45,000 acres but easily could have been contained to 20 acres (or 120, or 1200). The Forest Service played “catch and release firefighting” for half the summer and all of the fall and managed to produce more than half our acres of black for the state from a single fire. If you ask them about it they will tell you Twitchell was a wildfire (alternate spelling: CYA), but noone that was out there on the firelines know that there are wildfires…and then there are wild-wildfires. There are plusses and minuses to the policy of letting fires burn, but people need to be cognizant of what goes into the numbers that are reported.

  38. Jeff Alberts says:

    They’re trying to tell us that a .6c MAYBE average rise in temperatures over more than 150 years is killing trees, when the daily difference in temps can be 60f or more??

    SHENANIGANS!

  39. Jeff Alberts says:

    “Covered in ice! Sheesh …”

    Not in the US Southwest…

  40. Tom C-New Mexico says:

    “IF” this is true, then why is the Federal National Forest Service spending money to thin mature forests in North-Central New Mexico?? The mature timber forests in North Central New Mexico NOW contain up to 400% more growth than the land & climate are supposed to support – according to the National Forest Service. For the past 5 years the Forest Service has been spending money to thin trees on public and private land to reduce the threat of forest fires. Tree density on my property was thinned from more 200 basal feet to the 60 basal feet per acre recommended by the Forest Service and tree thinning work by the Forest Service continues on public and private forest lands in North – Central New Mexico. ,,,,,,,Finally, what about recent studies at reputable Universities that show that increased CO2 levels improve drought resistance in trees!

  41. Mike D. says:

    Jason says: …Past fire suppression has, indeed, increased fuel loads and led to larger, more difficult fires than the agencies were once accustomed to. In response there has been a concerted effort to reintroduce fire in order to reduce fuel loads and produce more early-successional vegetation. …

    Close but not quite correct. “Fire suppression” has not increased fuels loads, photosynthesis has. Plants grow, biomass accumulates.

    What was suppressed was the indigenous population and traditional management practices that included frequent, seasonal, anthropogenic fire — as pointed out by Al Gored above. Human-set fires were intentional and expert, set in seasons when lightning is rare, to modify the environment for human subsistence and survival purposes.

    Historically, lightning fires encountered fuels modified by human beings within an anthropogenic mosaic, and as a consequence those “natural” fires behaved much like the human set fires.

    “Reintroduction” of lightning fires in formerly cultural landscapes, where the biomass is now 10 times historical levels and continuous across vast tracts, results in catastrophic megafires that are unlike any previously experienced during the Holocene. Instead of restoring historical conditions, such fires wipe out legacy vegetation structures and species.

    The braindead USFS Let It Burn policy (excuse me, natural fire reintroduction policy [/sarc]) has resulted in numerous disasters like the Twitchell Canyon Fire in every state in the West over the last 20 years.

    The idea that fire prevents fire is akin to saying car accidents prevent car accidents, since the autos involved are totalled and cannot crash any more. But just as new cars are made every day, photosynthesis happens every day, and biomass continues to accumulate.

    The Let It Burn policy is encouraged by CAGW alarmists, who say it is better to incinerate forests today rather than wait until the globe heats up 10 degrees and the forest fires are really bad. But as pointed out above and elsewhere, it’s not the temperature, its the fuels (stupid). Actualizing the fire hazard by burning forests today will not prevent fuels from accumulating in the future.

    What is needed is a stewardship policy that recognizes that fire-resilient historical conditions, created by constant human tending over thousands of years, are preferable today over infrequent catastrophic holocausts. The indigenous residents knew what they were doing. The exotic, urban, post-normal, dimwit alarmists in charge today haven’t got a clue.

  42. pkatt says:

    Couldn’t be that trees are dying and fires are more likely because of a bug infestation that spread through the trees over decades. It couldn’t be stopped by nature because we kept putting out the fires for years and years and wouldn’t let “nature take it’s course”

    There it is again.. the hubris of man

  43. Chaveratti says:

    “If current climate projections hold true…”

    They haven’t so far, so why should they in the future.

  44. beesaman says:

    Glass half full, half empty in action?

  45. kadaka (KD Knoebel) says:

    DirkH said on December 14, 2010 at 10:39 am:

    I though it was WiFi that kills trees?

    Yup, according to a study done by Wageningen University, in the Netherlands.

    PC World article. There’s an editorial note on top saying some Dutch agency says the results are unconfirmed. Down in the comments are listed many other studies that also document such damage as well as personal accounts.

    Wageningen University news story, their site.
    Google translation of same, read at your own risk.
    Babel Fish translation, if you really need a laugh.

    Since this was a study ordered by a city who perhaps would have to grant rights to the usage of their “property,” and there are no links at the university’s article, I have doubts about this study being available for public access anywhere. Except perhaps for residents of the city, at the city hall, where it could be read on the premises, during normal business hours. Which by the standards we’ve been told to expect and accept for taxpayer-funded Climate Science™ research, would be quite generous terms indeed.

  46. Tim Clark says:

    Of those, 235 samples represented trees located in Arizona and New Mexico.

    Another group of researchers who don’t bother to look at real-world data.
    Precipitation over the last five years is average or up 10% in New Mexico and average or down about 15% in Arizona. Where is the highest acreage of forest? Does it matter?

  47. Pat Moffitt says:

    Brian H says: Pat M;
    Good response, but a bridge too far! Wandering continents don’t move perceptibly in 15,000 yrs.,

    You are absolutely wrong!!!! Depending on the continental plate we choose the speeds are 1 to 10cm/yr or 39 to 393 inches per century. At the high of 32 feet that is more than the most insane sea level rise estimates for the next century. In fact a big chunk of California is moving north to visit Alaska measured as undifferentiated slip at 10 feet since the last Big One and amazingly the failure to understand geology has California worrying about sea level instead. Then there is isostatic rebound, subsidence and and and…….

    The Earth is a dynamic planet.

  48. Pat Moffitt says:

    Jeff Alberts says:
    December 14, 2010 at 9:48 pm

    “Covered in ice! Sheesh …”Not in the US Southwest…

    It is true that the continental ice sheet did not extend to the Southwest in the most recent four advances however that is not the only glacier type. Want to bet that areas in the above study were covered with alpine, cirque or valley glaciers? A paper by Brakenridge (2004) “Evidence for a cold, dry full-glacial climate in the American Southwest” found the snowline 27000 to 13000 BP was 1000m lower than at present and that increased moisture would have allowed coniferous forests to grow 700m lower in desert areas.

    We are a dynamic planet.

  49. Brian H says:

    Pat;
    Yeah, “perceptibly” was too strong. But no intercontinental bashing, I’m afraid. Even 393″/century is only 900 miles or so in 15,000 yrs, and little of that is in straight lines. It takes 10s of millions of years for continents to close in on each other. A complete monoblok continent thru breakup thru new monoblok cycle seems to run around 400 million.
    As for ocean levels, rising and falling land seems to have more to do with ice loading and bounce-back, tho’ vertical quakes do happen within at least oral historical times and periods.

    IAC, it is certainly true that trying to “restore” some real or imaginary distant past scenario is usually nuts (both inappropriate and unachievable). Nudges and accommodation seem to play out much better, it seems.

  50. Pat Moffitt says:

    Brian– C’mon……Read the question! “Humans have only been in North America for something like 15,000 years. What were things like before that?”

    So “before that” (using earth time ) I calculate as 4.5 billion +/- years less 15,000 years which is a whole lot of geologic time.Time enough for cyclic warming, Ice Ages, bashing and smashing galore.

  51. SteveSadlov says:

    I’m sitting here typing this from the SW US (California).

    Funny thing, it seems that the general increase in forested land being witnessed elsewhere in the US is happening here too. Mainly I see the Oak spreading, but also the Doug Fir are doing their thing as well. Even Redwoods, to a minor extent.

  52. Brian H says:

    Pat;
    Right you are. Late night blogging is risky.

    The Wet Coast is where I live, too, and it’s quite a geo-playground.

    Here’s a horrible thought 4U: when the ice sheets return, they’ll draw down the oceans a few hundred meters and expose lots of new shoreline (probably including settlements used by migrants rather more than 15,000 years ago). And it will be one of the few areas still habitable, so hundreds of millions will move here. Eeewww!

Comments are closed.