Pining away about bugs and global warming

Cause and effect, or correlation not causation?

Press release Via Eurekalert:

Climate change causing demise of lodgepole pine in western North America

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Lodgepole pine, a hardy tree species that can thrive in cold temperatures and plays a key role in many western ecosystems, is already shrinking in range as a result of climate change – and may almost disappear from most of the Pacific Northwest by 2080, a new study concludes.

Including Canada, where it is actually projected to increase in some places, lodgepole pine is expected to be able to survive in only 17 percent of its current range in the western parts of North America.

The research, just published in the journal Climatic Change, was done by scientists from the College of Forestry at Oregon State University and the Department of Forest Resource Management at the University of British Columbia. It was based on an analysis of 12,600 sites across a broad geographic range.

Lodgepole pine ecosystems occupy large areas following major fires where extreme cold temperatures, poor soils and heavy, branch-breaking snows make it difficult for other tree species to compete. This includes large parts of higher elevation sites in Oregon, Washington, the Rocky Mountains and western Canada. Yellowstone National Park is dominated by this tree species.

However, warming temperatures, less winter precipitation, earlier loss of snowpack and more summer drought already appear to be affecting the range of lodgepole pine, at the same time increasing the infestations of bark beetles that attack this tree species.

The researchers concluded that some of these forces have been at work since at least 1980, and by around 2020 will have decreased the Pacific Northwest range of lodgepole pine by 8 percent. After that, continued climatic changes are expected to accelerate the species’ demise. By 2080, it is projected to be almost absent from Oregon, Washington and Idaho, some of the areas facing the most dramatic changes.

“For skeptics of climate change, it’s worth noting that the increase in vulnerability of lodgepole pine we’ve seen in recent decades is made from comparisons with real climatic data, and is backed up with satellite-observations showing major changes on the ground,” said Richard Waring, an OSU distinguished professor emeritus of forest science.

“This is already happening in some places,” Waring said. “Bark beetles in lodgepole pine used to be more selective, leaving the younger and healthier trees alone.

“Now their populations and pheromone levels are getting so high they can more easily reach epidemic levels and kill almost all adult trees,” he said. “Less frost, combined with less snow favors heavier levels of bark beetle infestation. We’re already seeing more insect attack, and we project that it will get worse.”

Some species are adapted to lower elevations, experts say, but lodgepole pine is predominately a sub-alpine tree species. Its new foliage can handle frost down to temperatures below freezing, it easily sheds snow that might break the branches of tree species more common at lower elevations, and it can survive in marginal soils.

But it makes these adaptations by growing more slowly, and as the subalpine environment becomes less harsh, lodgepole pine may increasingly be displaced by other species such as Douglas-fir, grand fir and ponderosa pine, which are also more drought-tolerant.

As lodgepole pine continues to decline, one of the few places on the map where it’s still projected to survive by 2080 is Yellowstone National Park – a harsh, high-elevation location – and a few other sub-alpine locations.

The species historically has played important ecological and cultural roles. It provided long, straight and lightweight poles often sought for tepees by Native American tribes, was later harvested commercially for poles and fence materials, and offers cover and habitat for big game animals.

###

Funding for this research was provided by NASA and the Natural Sciences Engineering and Research Council of Canada. A co-author of the study was Nicholas Coops with the University of British Columbia.

 

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142 Responses to Pining away about bugs and global warming

  1. Paul in Sweden says:

    “Funding for this research was provided by NASA and the Natural Sciences Engineering and Research Council of Canada”

    When is NASA going to focus on Space again?

  2. etudiant says:

    One might speculate that the period since 1980 was also the warm period of the PDO.
    It will be interesting to see how well these trees do over the cold phase, which has just started.

  3. nmsnoman says:

    When I asked the forest ranger why they have re-adopted a natural fire prevention campaign in yellowstone despite the science showing that lodge pole pines are well served and invariably bolstered by forest fire, the response was a simple shoulder shrug. Even when the science is clear and the benefits are obvious, the green movement does not act in the interest of the environment. they act only to advance their own agenda, which has nothing to do with conservation and everything to do with appearances and politics.

  4. Steve R says:

    I wonder if the lodgepole pine will expand it’s range northward? Crowding out the poor tundra all the way to the shores of the arctic?

  5. Steve R says:

    I wonder if the lodgepole pine will expand it’s range northward? Crowding out the tundra all the way to the shores of the Arctic?

  6. John F. Hultquist says:

    This winter ought to take care of all their problems. It is both cold and snowy. They’ll need more money.

    Snoqualmie Pass in Washington State has been closed most of the day because of heavy snow. Bummer.

    By the way – what warming are they talking about?

  7. rob m says:

    I have a hunch that their prediction will be wrong.

  8. mike g says:

    One proud NASA is now doing forestry? And, doing it badly, it would appear.

  9. mike g says:

    I guess they plan to leave spaceflight to China and concentrate on forestry?

  10. Harvey Harrison says:

    Wrong. Around Slocan BC all the pine died in 1980, we logged what we could and burned the rest. Guess what? It all grew back, the pine beetles came back, so we are logging it again.
    Pine has been here since coal was formed and will be here long after we are gone. It grows to useable size in 25 years; and then burns. Lodgepole is a fire tree and beats back the competition by burning them. Logepole pine cones need fire to go off like popcorn and scatter seeds everywhere.
    True, the fire hazard is extreme, but they are making the world safe for pine trees; not for us.

  11. Alberta Slim says:

    The beetle has increased because of warmer winters.
    The warmists, naturally, are extrapolating the trnd and saying, that is going to get worse.
    Cold weather is what keeps the pine beetle populations down, as I understand it.
    Therefore since we are now entering a cooling trend with lots of snow and sub-zero weather, things will NOT be “worse than we thought”.
    IMHO.

  12. Cris says:

    1980? Other than a minor event in SW Washington, that’s also about the time the PDO entered the warm regime.

  13. Stephen Rasey says:

    Bark Beetles are killing the pines.

    Now Global Warming (sorry, I cannot call it Climate Change without more specifics about WHAT is changing…) might be making the trees more susceptible to the beetle.

    Bit it might also be that we are witnessing the demise of a 70-100 year old monocultured forest that was replanted at the end of the 19th Century after logging for mines and railroads denuded the original forests. The healthy life span of a lodgepole is 80 years.

    So is it Pine Beetle by Global Warming? Or by bad management by U.S. Dept. of National Forests?

  14. Stephen Rasey says:

    Let us also not overlook the possibility of color enhancement in the press release.

    Here are photos I took Aug 2009 months ago in Colorado.
    http://www.panoramio.com/photo/25321843 – East of Silverthorn
    http://www.panoramio.com/photo/25305587 – East Portal of Eisenhower Tunnel.

  15. crosspatch says:

    It is amazing that we see these stories yet according to NCDC, CONUS temperatures have been declining rapidly since 1998.

  16. Sam Hall says:

    The assumption they are making is that warming will continue. We sure haven’t had much of it the last ten years.

  17. Craig Moore says:

    It’s not a bug, but a feature. Maybe these beetles will learn to chirp Yellow submarine.

    Montana is experiencing one hell of a brutal winter. New record lows have been set with record snowfalls. If the bugs can survive this perhaps congress will shovel a further handout to Monsanto for Roundup Ready lodgepole pine.

  18. Rattus Norvegicus says:

    You might be correct, if you don’t know anything about the life cycle of the mountain pine beetle. The problem is that low temperatures are a limitation on MPB populations. Here in Western Montana we have had almost a decade long outbreak of MPB because we haven’t had a good early cold snap as was fairly common out here prior to about 2002 or 2003. This had led to devastating consequences for forests around here. My friend the forester refers to a new species of pine which is appearing around here the “red pine”. That is what trees killed by the MPB look like once they have been killed. The needles turn red and stay on the trees for years.

    Last year we finally had a good early freeze (read that as below zero F temps for a week) early in October. This appears (according to my forester friend) to have slowed down the MPB outbreak for this year. The reason for this is that MPB larvae develop an ant-freeze compound in the late fall which prevents them from being killed by later cold snaps.

    This is causation, not correlation. There is a good reason, grounded in the biology of the MPB for this. But then you would have to know something about ecology (the science, not the slogan) in order to appreciate this.

  19. kbray in california says:

    A chart of my increasing gray hair over the years overlays exactly with the increasing CO2 chart… I conclude that my gray hair is caused by Climate Change… I see Fools.

  20. Zeke the Sneak says:

    Don’t overlook the role of bark beetlesin wiping out these forests; 90% of some stands in Oregon have been killed by these pests. Control of these outbreaks would be a little quicker using such conventional silvicultural practices as removal, thinning, applying pesticides, etc.. But for states like Oregon you’ll need to cut off your affordable energy supply and use public transportation to address the problem instead.

    ref: http://billingsgazette.com/news/state-and-regional/wyoming/article_f1952d30-089b-11df-9ea8-001cc4c002e0.html
    “By now, almost all the national forest’s stands of lodgepole pine have been affected”

  21. DccMartyn says:

    “Lodgepole pine ecosystems occupy large areas following major fires where extreme cold temperatures, poor soils and heavy, branch-breaking snows make it difficult for other tree species to compete”

    The serotinous cones of the Lodgepole pine are sealed with a resin that a fire melts away, releasing the seeds, giving this species a massive advantage over other tress as primary colonists.
    Now call me Dr Suspicious, but has there be a large scale change in the management of forests, with respect to fires, recently. If you don’t have fire clearance events then larger, faster growing trees will edge out the Lodgepole pines.
    Lodgepole pine have a niche, colonizing fire cleared site; take away the big fires, and they will no longer be dominant.
    Biology, not climatology.

  22. BioBob says:

    They could be correct and they could be incorrect. No one could assign a probability to either side of a prediction about the effects of future climate, nor what shape that future climate itself will take.

    Clearly the recent decades of fire suppression policy by managers as well as the policy favoring clear-cutting has also had effects which may or may not have more important effects on beetle population dynamics than purported climate changes.

    One thing is certain: there have ALWAYS been natural cyclical forest pest outbreaks in temperate and boreal zone forests and their likely always will be in the future. Tree species increase and decrease in abundance as well. Change is the one thing we can always count on with a 100% probability.

    Our difficulty is determining why ecosystems respond the way they do. One of these centuries we may even succeed.

  23. Andrew says:

    Help me understand a few things; I am but a humble layman out in Washington State that likes to have fun in our great outdoors!

    When temps trend higher species adapt right? Won’t new areas become hospitable to the Lodgepole Pines? Treeline will become higher, new trees will grow in areas that once were only was hospitable to grasses, shrubs and marmots, right?

    It seems as if the ‘climate extremists’ have a zero sum gain mentality.

    Darwin could never have been a ‘climate extremist’.

  24. Phil's Dad says:

    Change will always be good for some and bad for others. (If that where not so we would not now be enjoying our time as the dominant species.) Try thinking of this story from the point of view of the beetle.

  25. INGSOC says:

    I don’t have first hand info, but a local logger friend was telling me last year that after the previous two exceptionally cold winters, the pine beetle spread had all but stopped. I would imagine that after this past also exceptionally cold winter in the interior of BC the spread will be even further reduced. Temps below -30 apparently kill the beasties. We have had three years in a row of well below -30 temps for months on end throughout the interior. I will look around a bit more regarding this article, and perhaps speak with my logger buddy and get some real information about this subject. Those guys at UBC are zealots.

  26. DJ says:

    This kind of article is misleading because it omits some of the root causes of the beetle problem. Excessive and long term artificial suppression of forest fires are partly to blame.

    The forests are now older growth, with older trees being more susceptible to the beetles, tree density has become unnaturally high making migration of the bugs easy and more widespread, and in some cases, unusual wind events spread the bugs.

    While milder winters haven’t helped to mitigate the infestations, blaming the massive infestations entirely on climate change is inaccurate and only part of the story.

    Efforts have been underway in the Tahoe basin to bring tree density back down to more typical levels of trees per acre consistent with those prior to human fire suppression. Natural fires helped maintain healthier forests, and the lodgepoles fall into the category.

    There are many papers that address long term drought in the Great Basin region, where conditions similar to those being blamed now were purely natural variability existed, and the forests survived…along with the beetles.

  27. jae says:

    I smell a bunch of speculative CRAP here! The little environmentalists-cum-foresters in the universities have now pushed “Preservation” (NOT to be confused with Conservation (wise use)) of the forests to the point where the forests are now subject to all sorts of preventable disasters, such as: fire, bark beetles, dwarf mistletoe, and other diseases. It is VERY telling that these problems DO NOT OCCUR ON PRIVATE FOREST LANDS, ONLY ON GOV’T “MANAGED” LANDS! NEGLECT is the operative word for the USFS, USGS, and other bumbling federal agencies. Some states have decent programs, on the other hand….. But, then, the poor federal beggars no longer have any money to really MANAGE the forests, anymore, since timber sales have become almost non-existant. If they see an insect attack, they just watch it, because there is no money to do anything; if it happens on private lands, the damaged trees are cut down and burned, cancelling the “crisis.” Another example of how the Government takes care of things. LOL.

    (I also have a degree in forestry, FWIW)

  28. Ali Baba says:

    All science is correlation. When a correlate becomes popular, by its frequent appearance, we promote it to cause.

  29. JRR Canada says:

    Of course no mention of the bugs other annual nemesis, forest fire. When the forests arround Prince George BC burns the top soil will be scorched, thank the BC govt for all these years of fire suppression. Oh yes its manmade climate change, when govt prevents fire from performing its natural function. The traditional definition of a expert does not need any update, drip under pressure or knowing more and more about very little and blind to the knowledge of this ignorance.

  30. tokyoboy says:

    In Japan too, years ago, rumor said that the decline of trees (pines in particular) was due to acid rain. However, these days they say that the main culprit is either tree bugs or air pollution due to motorization, or both. Fortunately(?) few people talk about global warming for this sort of topic (maybe Japan is still behind of the US?).

  31. kent Blaker says:

    I live in British Columbia and have been aware of the problem for many years. It could have been prevented by allowing local loggers to harvest the older infected trees but the government of the day needed to do studies.
    The real reason for the outbreak is that we were so good at puting out forest fires that trees that would have normally burned, destroying the beetles inside ,were left to grow old and provide for more reproduction capacity for the bugs.
    These trees drop needles and pine cones every year. The accumulated fuel under an old tree burns so hot as to incinerate the whole tree.

  32. dp says:

    So how warm has it gotten in lodge pole country?

  33. David Davidovics says:

    -Published in the Journal “Climate Change” *sigh*

    They talk about this a lot here in BC. One thing I remember is the beetle tends to target older growth trees (As in, order than 90 years roughly), so I don’t accept that it could cause the species to collapse completely. It may kill off much of the older generation which would open things up for natural selection to take place for the seedlings however, and that is what I am more inclined to believe. I am going out on a limb here, but there are other examples around the world of long scale cycles with trees and other plants that can cause rapid die offs followed by rebounds decades later.

  34. Douglas DC says:

    The beetle is a part of a cycle just like warm and cold. Back in the 90′s I fought huge
    pine fueled fires all over the west. At little effort of forestry (yes including fire) and the
    problem is greatly reduced. As mentioned above, this is a quick growing fire prone
    tree. It is part of a: FIRE ECOLOGY period. It does what it does…

  35. Robert says:

    I work in the forestry business in BC, and I have heard this nugget quite a bit. Too bad people do not acknowledge that Lodgepole pine is short lived species that is very pest prone. It’s mission in life is reproduce in astonishing numbers, grow extremely fast, and then die out after a relatively short life. It’s a great strategy in areas with frequent forest fires. However, in our attempt to manage this species, humans have held vast tracts of old pine stands on the stump until we are ready to harvest them in an orderly fashion. This has resulted in huge areas of old and relatively pure pine stands which have built up enormous reservoirs of pests (beetles). Add in a few relatively mild winters and we have a recipe for disaster. Mother nature gave us a spanking! It’s way too easy to blame “climate change” and ignore our management practices as the true source of this outbreak.

  36. davidmhoffer says:

    Look! Earth warming!
    I’m looking at this thermometer its about the same as it was….
    Look! Lodge Pole Pine disapearing!
    Well, we put in all those fire suppression programs, now about this thermo-..
    Look! For skeptics this should be obvious! Earth warming!
    But the thermometer readings are about the same as-…
    Look! Skeptic stupid! Can’t see evidence! Lodge Pole Pines dying!
    Sure, but I’m tracking the temperature here and
    Look! Skeptics don’t understand science! Bad genes!
    But its colder this year than ever before….
    Look! Colder! See? Earth warming!
    But…huh? what?
    Look! Poor upbringing!
    My upbringing was just fine, now about this thermometer…
    Look! Skeptics threatening violence!
    I did not…
    Look! Denying it too!
    Are you kidding me? Are you nuts?!
    Look! Ad Hominem Attack! Ad Hominem Attack!

    Folks, there’s a way to win this argument, I just haven’t a clue what it is.

  37. cotwome says:

    “For skeptics of climate change” …

    I don’t think anyone here is skeptical about the fact that the climate changes. Skeptical about “Anthropogenic Global Warming” defiantly, but not climate change. They keep moving the goal posts.

  38. Karen D says:

    The premise is made that “warming temperatures, less winter precipitation, earlier loss of snowpack and more summer drought already appear to be affecting the range of lodgepole pine” … but has the region actually experienced “warming temperatures, less winter precipitation, earlier loss of snowpack and more summer drought”? I live nearby and my experience doesn’t bear this out, although I have not kept detailed records. Maybe someone has.

    The prof explains “For skeptics of climate change, it’s worth noting that the increase in vulnerability of lodgepole pine we’ve seen in recent decades is made from comparisons with real climatic data, and is backed up with satellite-observations showing major changes on the ground” … but how do compare “vulnerability” to climate? Shouldn’t you compare climate data to climate data?

    It sounds like smoke and mirrors to me.

    You could compare the number of lodgepole pines before 1980 to the number now, and if there are fewer now then yes you might say the species is “vulnerable”. But you can’t just leap from that to “climate change did it” without showing that the climate, in fact, changed, and that nothing else did.

    Maybe they have data, I guess I’ll have to pursue it and find out.

  39. philincalifornia says:

    Here we go again.

    All species, especially warm and cuddly ones like polar bears, are going to be in danger of extinction, except pests, which are going to thrive.

    Of course, that’s how DNA works in the moronosphere !!

  40. Jim Arndt says:

    Pining

  41. Layne Blanchard says:

    This is neither corrolation or causation. The 1/2 degree Pine Beetle explosion isn’t selling with me. And we’ve had two unusually cold years already recently. This looks like a job for a good insecticide. Spray spray spray, and move on.

  42. richcar that 1225 says:

    Lodgepole pines are short lived ‘pioneer species’ that rapidly sprout up after fires or logging. If you walk under stands of dead lodgepole you will see spruce, fir and aspen taking its place. If you could travel back in time to Summit County, Colorado before the miners arrived you would see a patchwork quilt of burned areas, thick lodgepole stands and old growth fir and spruce stands. Unfortunately the miners logged it all and it was replaced with Lodgepole which has now reached its old age and is now being consumed by bugs due to fire supression. Thank you bugs, I hate lodgepole.

  43. philincalifornia says:

    Furthermore:

    “For skeptics of climate change, it’s worth noting blah blah blah …… ”

    Who’s he talking about ?? Is there even one human being on the planet who is a skeptic of climate change ??

  44. ecliptic says:

    I live in pine beetle country and I’ve payed close attention to this issue.

    • clear-cutting during mining booms dramatically damaged the forest
    • a seven-stage healing process begins with lodgepole pine domination
    • cold-spells can wipe out the pine beetles ( supposedly 5 consecutive nights @ 25 below )
    • localized beetle infestations used to be stopped by lightning-fires ( now we “manage” forest fires )
    • air and water pollution are part of the equation ( see also : documentary “What in the World are They Spraying” )

    *** the climate has never NOT been “changing” … that is the default condition of Earth ***

  45. Mike McMillan says:

    As if we didn’t have enough to worry about.
    I was just getting accommodated to 3 meter sea level rises.

  46. jae says:

    “If you could travel back in time to Summit County, Colorado before the miners arrived you would see a patchwork quilt of burned areas, thick lodgepole stands and old growth fir and spruce stands. Unfortunately the miners logged it all and it was replaced with Lodgepole which has now reached its old age and is now being consumed by bugs due to fire supression.”

    Is this just a Colorado pipe-dream, or do you have some data to support your “hypothesis??” Old-growth fir? In Colorado? What kind of “fir,” sir?

  47. TomRude says:

    2080 now? Next 2120, 2150…

  48. RockyRoad says:

    I spent part of the summer of 1969 spraying lodgepole pines for pine beetles in Island Park, south of Yellowstone–which time was way before 1980! It was recognized to be a major problem before anybody could conceive that Global Warming was the problem–Hey, wasn’t that about the time they were so horribly concerned about the next Ice Age?

    Revisionist science is all I can say. (My least preferred “pine” is the lodgepole–I wish they’d all be eliminated so better species of evergreens could take over. I consider the lodgepole to be a weed.)

    Personally,

  49. Mark T says:

    Rattus Norvegicus says:
    February 28, 2011 at 5:52 pm

    But then you would have to know something about ecology (the science, not the slogan) in order to appreciate this.

    You mean, like, the fact that this happens every few hundred years? Or that there are more older trees now than there normally are largely due to mining in the late 1800s? Beetles love older trees and we did a good job of singling out the lodgepole as the most dominant tree in the NW forests. Give ‘em food and they will eat.

    Mark

  50. Steven Rasey had a photo of the pine beetle kill at the east portal of the Eisenhower Tunnel in Colorado (elevation 11,000 feet). If you drive east about 20 miles at an elevation of 8500 to 9000 feet (where it is much warmer) , you don’t see the bark beetle kill. Also, there was a severe outbreak of beetle kill in the late seventies. It ran its course and the forest recovered.

  51. Mark T says:

    jae says:
    February 28, 2011 at 7:31 pm

    Is this just a Colorado pipe-dream, or do you have some data to support your “hypothesis??” Old-growth fir? In Colorado? What kind of “fir,” sir?

    All sorts of trees. Lodgepole did not dominate as they do now. Those trees are all in the 100+ year age range, ripe for beetle infestation.

    Search around on the web, this has been known for quite some time. Apparently the authors of these “Global Warming MUST BE THE CULPRIT” papers tend to forget about known science, or basic common sense (whichever you prefer,) when they set out to blame their favorite boogeyman.

    Mark

  52. juanslayton says:

    Lemme see, the original (1980?) range will decline, by 2020, to 92% of its initial value (that’s 100% – 8%). That’s an average loss of 0.2% per year. Interpolation would put the current value at 94% of the original.

    By 2080, predicted survival is 17% of that current 94%. That’s approximately 16% of the original value and an 84% loss overall. So the first 40 years (1980-2020) we lose 8%, and the next 60 years we lose 76% (100% – 84%).

    Again, the rate over the first 40 years is 0.2% annually. The rate of loss over next 60 years is 76/60, or 1.27% a year. Yes, that is one heck of an acceleration. Those bugs better get busy….

  53. Doug Proctor says:

    The pine beetle is killed by 3 weeks or more of -30 weather. When I came to Calgary in the late ’70s, there was at least 3 weeks of such cold weather per year. Things changed. But global warming?

    The pine beetle dies at a certain temperature minimum. That is what kept it so far south. The temperature rise needs to be above that minimum for the required time. In order to say global warming did this, you would have to show that – since 1980 – 1) the mountain temperatures have risen by that much during the winter months not progressively until today, but immediately when the pine beetle began to move, and 2) that the temperature rise was GLOBAL, an not regional starting from the winters that didn’t kill the pine beetle.

    Yes, we in Calgary/Banff do not have the cold spells we used to have 30 years ago. We went from -45 periods to -25 periods in only a few years, and then that was repeated. WE DO NOT HAVE GENERAL EVEVATED TEMPERATURES OF THAT MAGNITUDE HERE!

    The pine beetle problem is a regional problem caused by, yes, a climatic shift but not a GLOBAL one. The world would be a steambath and baked dessert if it were.

    Grab an idea, toss it into your grant application and wait for the green-backed manna.

    Weather is climate and local is global.

  54. An Inquirer says:

    It is a sad sight to see the devastation of the pine beetle in Colorado. Yet it is important not to let emotions run our decisions, but rather data and analysis. Kudos to the Forest Service in the Black Hills for recognizing fire suppression / excessively thick growth is conducive to pine beetles. Once they attacked the real problem, they have made remarkable progress in the return of healthy forests.

  55. Robert says:

    Oh no it this thread again :)

    From what i understand is that this beetle is a poor flyer and rivers form a major obstacle for them until we provided the means of transport for them in the form of bridges and transportation of felled trees across the country.

    That these beetles love poorly managed forrest so much because almost all trees are old enough for them, no active lodging of sick trees and a active forrestfire supression tend to cause that.

    That the beetles start to feast on the younger trees these days has nothing to do with climate change, or in this case old fashioned global warming, there are so damn many of them that they face good old fashion starvation by overpopulation or they adapt.

    It is caused by Man, no doubt about that, but claiming that it is climate change means that they steer away from practical solutions.

  56. Mark W says:

    Fire suppression and ill-conceived forest management practices have had far more to do with the spread of the pine beetle than any supposed climate change. As others have indicated above, pine beetle is part of the lodgepole forest ecosystem and always has been. In an “unmanaged” forest, between drought and lightning, lodgepole pine rarely survives more than about 40 yrs – and pine beetle attack the old, decadent trees – but once an infestation begins, its hard to stop as long as there’s more trees around.

    It may have been a little warmer (or cooler) in the past 40 yrs, and perhaps there were (or were not) more frequent “cold snaps” in the past, but the pine beetle infestation is clearly an unintended consequence of “aggressive” forest management practices – not climate.

  57. Jeff L says:

    The reason the pine beetles have caused havoc is poor forest mgmt – blame the USDA & Smoky Bear, not global warming. Natural forest settings have fire as regular component to prevent overgrowth; overgrowth = pine beetle epidemics.

    We have had a policy of wildfire suppression (ie Smoky Bear) for decades & now we are paying the price with our forests being devastated by pine beetles.

    This whole article is revolting on so many levels – bad science in the form of poor forest mgmt causing one problem & then blaming it on another bit of bad science (AGW) by a group that is supposed to be studying space (NASA) – what the heck do they know about forestry or climate? Nothing as far as I can tell. All I can conclude is that SCIENCE AS WE USED TO KNOW IT IS DEAD & society as whole is worse off for it.

  58. Ted says:

    Here in Vancouver, Canada. about 18 months ago the local radio warmist talk show host Bill Good was doing his usual rant about Global Warming was causing the Pine Beetle infestation. I phoned in with this report and shut him down, he still goes on about Global warming but never mentions the Pine beetle anymore!

    Here’s why:

    Must Read! The Pine Beetle Hysteria Exposed! Natural, not Manmade!

    Man may indeed have played a large role in the spread of the mountain pine beetle but not in the way climate change activists portray.

    For the latter half of the 20th century as people settled in forested areas in greater numbers, forest fires drew more attention. While in centuries past fires burned unabated as part of a natural cycle of the earth, man now was coming to the “rescue” and putting out the fires. In doing so, an unintended consequence of forest overgrowth was realized. By eliminating the natural death and re-birth cycle that fire brings, forests became more dense and just as critically, they have matured to an age that is ripe for pine beetles to attack.

    Sky Stephens, Forest Entomologist for the Colorado State Forest Service said that our desire to stamp out fires in unpopulated areas did more harm than good. “It set us up for a number events that have and are going to happen,” she said. Stephens said the forests were never meant to have the dense stands that we have grown accustomed to seeing and the more food there is for the beetles, the greater the impact when they attack.

    Dave Thom, a natural resources officer with the Black Hills National Forest agrees with Stephens. Of trying to point the finger at manmade climate change, he told the Rapid City Journal last month, “It’s more complicated than that.”
    That phenomenon [the pine beetle epidemic] can happen regardless of a few degrees of change in climate, measured on a global scale. ~ Dave Thom, Black Hills National Forest
    See lots more:

    http://www.climatechangedispatch.com/home/5432-must-read-the-pine-beetle-hysteria-exposed-natural-not-manmade

  59. JPeden says:

    “For skeptics of climate change, it’s worth noting that the increase in vulnerability of lodgepole pine we’ve seen in recent decades is made from comparisons with real climatic data, and is backed up with satellite-observations showing major changes on the ground,” said Richard Waring, an OSU distinguished professor emeritus of forest science.

    “Real” data, only for the skeptics, eh? Do they ever read what they’ve just written or said, or is this some kind of harbinger of surrender to real science?

    Where I live in Oregon, the previously standing dead lodgepole ring-widths indicate that we probably should have already been iced over, while you can’t stop the young-uns not even born from fire from ruling some areas without using a ground level daisy cutter approach. One big area of a natural clean-house type of forest fire has what looks like a gigantic tree farm of lodgepole in extremely high concentration, which they are noted for. Some of the larch survived because of their thicker bark. People have been predicting a bark beetle or needle borer apocalypse here since before Global Warming. I witnessed one semi-local “progressive” here see a few dead trees and call it an “epidemic”.

    CAGW relies upon people being suggestible.

  60. Douglas DC says:

    Rock Road- I lived on the Oregon coast- you haven’t dealt with “weed” trees until you
    have dealt with the lodgepole’s cousin the shore pine. Picturesqe, with lovely shape and
    cover-and a termite trap. I spent years cutting those things down, to keep them
    away from my house.Before one fell on our bedroom….

  61. Ian Cairns says:

    I did a 30 year stint in forestry research in BC as a technician. When it comes to Universities, it is the old “publish or perish” syndrome. Those who don’t toe the ‘global warming’ line don’t get funding for their projects, and therefore won’t be able to publish. The Whole Truth doesn’t matter when your tenure is at stake, it seems.

    Pines are colonizers, designed to take over freshly burned areas. They are pretty much decadent between 80 and 120. They replenish themselves just fine with the right kind of fire. (not too intense). They don’t need a lot of protection against bark beetles and insect pests because of their shorter lifespans coupled with their ability in natural regeneration.

    Pines are in no danger of extinction except in the minds of the global warming zealots.
    regards, Ian Cairns

  62. Mike says:

    @Steve R asked: “I wonder if the lodgepole pine will expand it’s range northward? Crowding out the poor tundra all the way to the shores of the arctic?”

    Trees invading warming Arctic will cause warming over entire region, study shows

    By Robert Sanders, Media Relations | January 11, 2010
    BERKELEY —

    Contrary to scientists’ predictions that, as the Earth warms, the movement of trees into the Arctic will have only a local warming effect, University of California, Berkeley, scientists modeling this scenario have found that replacing tundra with trees will melt sea ice and greatly enhance warming over the entire Arctic region.

    http://newscenter.berkeley.edu/2010/01/11/arctic_warming/

    And see this from 2007:

    Surprising New Arctic Inhabitants: Trees
    Andrea Thompson
    Date: 09 March 2007 Time: 04:38 AM ET

    Rising temperatures fueled by global warming are causing forests of spruce trees to invade Arctic tundra faster than scientists originally thought, evicting and endangering the species that dwell there and only there, a new study concludes.

    http://www.livescience.com/1350-surprising-arctic-inhabitants-trees.html

  63. Alan Clark says:

    Here in Lodgepole, Alberta it’s a balmy -38C tonight in the wind. Last winter was similarly tropical and had the result of reducing the pine beetle population very significantly. I suspect they’ll be all but eradicated this year.

    Moreover, the lodgepole pines… we cut them down, turn them into fence boards and then re-plant the forest with something that is actually useful.

  64. Mike says:

    A lot of you seem to have a hard time with the idea that an effect can have more than one cause. In this case climate change (man made or not) and poor forest management could both be involved. Part of our response in climate change (man made or not) needs to include better forest management.

    “Much of western North America has elevated tree densities, relative to pre-settlement times, either for all trees, the largest tree classes thereof, or both. This is primarily due to active fire reduction/suppression policies over the last century or more by federal and state land managers, and/or timber harvesting practices. The resulting increased competition, without any increased climate stresses, would by itself increase tree physiological stress and affect beetle outbreak dynamics. The addition of warmer and/or dryer conditions simply magnifies this problem.” http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2010/10/seeing-red/

  65. mr.artday says:

    Could it be that all the bans on all the pesticides is a major factor in the beetle spread. We seem to have been so thoroughly brain washed that only one out of 63 responses even mentions spraying insectcide.

  66. hunter says:

    So it is not a problem caused by clear cutting and zero fire tolerance. It is not a problem from mono-culture. It is not a problem from pollution.
    No, it is due to a ~1degree change over 100 years in a global average.
    In an eco-system that regularly experiences ~ 60 degree dynamic range per year.
    What a waste of money this sort of propaganda dressed up as science represents. Can we please get our money back on this?

  67. John F. Hultquist says:

    Mike says at 8:20 pm

    Get a grip, Mike. It has all happened before. Nothing to get excited about. Nothing to see here. Move on, now.

    Historical Aspects of the Northern Canadian Treeline
    by HARVEY NICHOLS
    http://pubs.aina.ucalgary.ca/arctic/Arctic29-1-38.pdf

  68. Mike says:

    Some of you might be interested in this story from 2008.

    Western U.S. Forests At Risk: Complex Dynamics Underlie Bark Beetle Eruptions

    ScienceDaily (June 6, 2008) — Biological interactions involving fungi as well as trees and competing insects drive bark beetle outbreaks. The processes are sensitive to a forest’s condition and the local climate, but prediction is difficult because the processes turn on multiple critical thresholds.

    Nonetheless, human activities are making outbreaks more extensive and frequent. Climate change and biological processes at large and small scales drive outbreaks now killing forests in the American West.

    Forest management that favors single tree species and climate change are just two of the critical factors making forests throughout western North America more susceptible to infestation by bark beetles, according to an article published in the June 2008 BioScience.

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/06/080602075818.htm

  69. rbateman says:

    “The researchers concluded that some of these forces have been at work since at least 1980, and by around 2020 will have decreased the Pacific Northwest range of lodgepole pine by 8 percent. After that, continued climatic changes are expected to accelerate the species’ demise. ”

    Trend without end, extrapolated until the cows come home.
    There is the old saying “Can’t see the forest for the trees”
    With yound lodgpole pine stands, you can’t walk through the darned forest for the trees.

  70. Al Gored says:

    This is something I know about in detail. Many posters have got most of the pieces of this story but not yet pulled it all together.

    Several have explained that the lodgepole pine is a relatively short-lived fire-adapted species which can only maintain its dominance with the aid of regular fires… and that Smokey the Bear fire suppression is the first cause of these recent epidemics. The missing point so far – unless I missed it – is that the viable habitat of these beetles is the tree’s cambium layer, only when it reaches the thickness of mature trees. Thus this is a ‘disease’ of old age for these pines.

    In the absence of fire the beetles kill them, which creates a very fire prone aftermath, and when fire comes, to either a live or beetle killed lp forest, that pops the seeds out of the cones and that plants what becomes an even-aged stand.

    Now step back 80 years or more, when Smokey started stomping, after many areas had been burned, with fresh young pine stands popping up. With no fires they have all matured to create vast areas of mountain pine beetle habitat.

    The bottom line here is simple. No matter how warm winters had been (and fall is actually the critical period), these huge epidemics could never have happened without all this unnatural habitat. And it made it worse. These beetle populations had so much habitat that they exploded into hyperabundance, which made them spread further and faster and even attack young and other non-host trees (they can attack them but they can not survive to reproduce in them).

    This beetle is always present in western forests. It also attacks ponderosa pines and a couple of other species. But mature trees can usually fight off attacks unless they are stressed by drought or disease or, most importantly here, they are attacked by so many beetles they cannot resist them.

    The real problem for the future is to manage forests better including recreating the kind of patchy multi-species, multi-aged forests that occured under “natural” (Native Americans (mostly) and lightning) conditions. If huge areas are just left as even-aged lodgepole pine again, the cycle will repeat itself.

  71. Oliver Ramsay says:

    Have you heard about the Mountain Pine Beetle infestation in Mexico?
    That’s because there isn’t one. Even though Dendroctonus Ponderosae (that’s his name) has lived in northern Mexico for a very long time.
    It never gets to be -30C in Mexico, that’s why we all like to go there when it is that cold here.
    They used to claim that that was the temperature needed to keep the beetle in check. When it became clear that that wasn’t the case the story changed to the temperature at the time of the mating flight in early summer.
    In the eighties, I contracted with the BC government for several years to seek and destroy Mountain Pine Beetle in the Robson Forest district and, I’m sorry to say, that although we killed a lot of beetles we failed to stop the outbreak.
    If there’s any glimmer of truth in this “study” I am unable to discern it.
    The BC pine beetle epidemic has been enormous, in part beause the pine stands in this part of the world are enormous. The story about the snow-shedding branches is utter nonense. Engelmann and white spruce, which are species extensively found with Lodgepole, have down-sweeping limbs, which shed the snow just fine in spite of their dense foliage; just about all the pines have up-sweeping branches, and they do fine, too. Maybe because the canopy is more open or maybe because the whole issue is a red herring. Lodgepole seeds survive fire very well (others have pointed this out) and they grow quickly into adolescence. Spruce takes over if fire doesn’t intervene because these pines are not long-lived and their growth slows as they mature.
    Yes, beetles are more successful attacking older trees becaue they get “pitched out” of younger trees, but that’s hardly a drawback, since the entire stand is all of an age and the regenerated stand will have a good number of years to get established. Lodgepole pine is all about Nature’s own monoculture.
    Supposedly, there has been, in BC, a rise in the average winter daily minimum temperature of about 1.5C. That’s the only trend that is claimed for here.
    It’s also worth noting that the BC epidemic started in the coldest parts of its range and has spread to the warmer parts, where it has been less significant than expectd and is now abating.

  72. Cassandra King says:

    In reality and in the real world the problem with the pine beetle is due in large measure to a lack of forestry management by people with the required skill set. The law of unintended consequences kicks in with conservationists gaining control of government land and policy and trying to enact and enforce half arsed ill thought out trendy tree hugger theology on an environment perfectly adapted to solving the problems it faces on its own.

    Instead of owning up to the mistakes of the past they invent fantastical excuses for those past mistakes, instead of casting a critical eye over the issue and inviting real genuine forestry experts for their insights they choose to hide from reality and spend their time making up reports like this. We see this kind of thing happening all the time now with people so keen to run away from their responsibilities. Green theology is being exposed as the real ‘age of stupid’.

  73. Steamboat Jon says:

    As I recall a major blowdown occurred in 1997 on the national forest I worked on (see links). The cleanup plan had been pitched by one or more logging outfits to be granted salvage rights to the downed timber. This would have required a few logging access roads to be cleared in order to get to the remote areas impacted. All it took was for some overzealous person/persons to request an injunction from a judge to put a stop to the salvage effort. Never even had to go to court, just beat the clock as the longer the timber was down the less profitable it became to the logging industry. In the end the salvage effort was abandoned and instead a cleanup proposal was tabled but was determined to be too costly. A couple of back to back mild winters plus the blowdown was all that was needed to start the bark beetle population explosion that spread from area to area and the resulting fuel loads and forestry management nightmare that followed. So yes, weather related (the microburst that created the blowdown and a couple of mild winters) but nothing that has not happened before.
    http://www.cora.nwra.com/~snook/blowdown.html
    http://www.federalregister.gov/articles/1998/09/24/98-25541/routt-divide-blowdown-analysis-medicine-bow-routt-national-forest-hahns-peakbears-ears-ranger

  74. Peter Miller says:

    I don’t suppose the beetles evolving/mutating to be be more efficient predators of these lodgepole pines has anything to do with this.

    This definitely is a project which needs much greater grant funding and quickly!!! Sarc

  75. Beth Cooper says:

    Re Mike reference(9.12pm)
    “The article br Kenneth F. Raffa….stresses the complexity of the biological processes…”
    Pheww! I thought they said Briffa!

  76. john S. says:

    OK a lot of good info here and some good conjecture as well. A couple of fine points though from someone who was/is there:
    In BC the beetle exploded in classic epizootic fashion from a park in the caribou forest district. Beetle control had long been a fact of life in the district but was not permitted in the park. Given the food supply in the park and a few warm winters it was predictable that the MPB population would explode. It did. The resources in the chilcotin were insufficient to make any dent in the population as it spread into crown land. Nothing concrete was done. The chilcotin plateau is mostly pine, much of it mature and in most years subjected to stress from various sources. The buildup of the population continued. When it emerged from the district into the surrounding ones, fall and burn control methods were useless. The opportunity for control was gone, the time for pointless weeping and pontification had begun.
    The outbreak hit my home district with a vengeance. The beetle load was so high that wherever mature timber had been killed, immature trees (as small as 12cm in diameter) were subsequently attacked (killed). After about 3 years, the beetles ran out of food, and the damage moved on. This pattern has been repeating itself in the form of a wave radiating outwards from the chilcotin for years now.
    I work in the fort st john area and last year the beetle finally settled into the more remote mountain valleys there. While the northern climate seems to have made a dent in the population, overall most of the mature pine up there is being killed.
    SO much for the spread story. Here are some facts: three weeks of -30 degree temps in the middle of winter will NOT knock down an infestation of this size. Cold temperatures early in the fall/winter (-30 AT LEAST) or in early spring are far more effective. While mature pine are the main host, the beetle will kill young pine, doug fir and even spruce in areas where their numbers are extremely high. Pine beetle outbreaks are part of our history and prehistory here in BC for as long as fires have been. Pesticides are not effective. We could have predicted this outbreak since we have witnessed the exact same thing with the spruce bark beetle in the prince george district in the ’80s.
    One more thing, as a point to consider: The weather in the fort st john area over the past few years has been colder than the weather in the pacific northwest has been in recorded history. Yet the beetle spread has not been stopped or even slowed down that much. I suspect it was colder in fort st john than it generally ever was in the southern interior of BC as well. Given this, how is it possible to conclude that the slight warming of the chilcotin , southern interior and pacific northwest has caused or even significantly contributed to the outbreak of pine beetle? It NEVER got cold enough down there to stop a beetle outbreak in the first place.
    As an aside, we have recently had good success planting douglas fir up here. Previously we had too much frost damage. Global warming? Not so much. It is common here to find mature douglas fir growing on sites which would not (until recently at least ) allow Douglas Fir planting.
    My apologies for the long post and for the typos, grammatical errors and erratic capitalization. It is late at night, i need to go to bed.

  77. Jack Simmons says:

    Steamboat Jon says:
    February 28, 2011 at 10:39 pm

    As I recall a major blowdown occurred in 1997 on the national forest I worked on (see links).

    Wasn’t that basically a tornado in the mountains? I remember that event and also remember the anger on the lot of people regarding the waste of the wood.

    Oh well. Nature is going to correct our poor management of the forests. Every time I drive up I-70 through Summit County, I wonder when the random lightning strike will set things off and reset the forest clocks.

    We don’t have to wonder if things could be different.

    There is a really good experiment going on right now in Montana.

    See http://westinstenv.org/ffsci/2009/09/08/two-forests-under-the-big-sky-tribal-v-federal-management/

    It is clear what works and what doesn’t. All that is needed is some common sense, a very scarce commodity.

  78. Jordan says:

    I noticed how the garden centres were bringing many exotic plant species into the UK. Our gardens were looking very pretty with broad leaf banana plants, ferns grasses and others. We got away with it for a number of years.

    It only takes one harsh cold spell to wipe them out. They only die once.

    We have had two or three cold winters now and I have noticed many specimens disappearing from local gardens.

    I wonder if springtime 2011 will come early as has been claimed. Not early enough for me.

  79. Lindsay Holland says:

    Lodgepole pine is weed taking over our large areas of high country grasslands in New Zealand, it dosn’t need fire to spread, hot northwest winds spread the seed just fine.

    http://www.biosecurity.govt.nz/pests/lodgepole-pine

  80. Roger Knights says:

    Here’s a post with a different angle on this topic, from an earlier thread here:

    RJ Hendrickson (20:40:18) :
    The bark beetle kill-off was a result of a drought, not lack of cold in the winter. Pine trees always have a few bark beetles hanging about. They punch a hole in the bark, and it fills up with sap, preventing more beetles from being attracted by the original beetles phemerones. In a drought condition, the trees lack moisture, and not enough sap is produced to plug the hole, and lots of new beetles come to the tree. Enough beetles will eventually girdle the cambium, and the tree is kaput. Cold doesn’t kill beetles, rain does.

  81. John Marshall says:

    A ranger in Yellowstone told me that the lodgepole pine was being attacked by this beetle because forest fires are kept under control or even eliminated in some areas due to alert reactions of rangers. It is the fires that keep the beetles under control. No fires more beetles less pines. Since the lodgepole pines survived warmer and colder periods than today it is not climate change that is the problem but lack of forest fires.

  82. Don Keiller says:

    Call this a naive observation, but don’t forest fires;
    1) help the reproductive cycle of Lodgepole Pine?
    2) Kill bark beetles?

    If the forest is “managed” in such a way as to minimise fires won’t this give the beetles an advantage?

    I would also like to know what the climate record really shows during this period of increased bark beetle activity.

  83. Jimbo says:

    A few more winters like this one and this study will be long forgotten. They make the mistake of ASSUMING that we will continue to get global warming when the evidence shows it has stopped and we may be entering a cooling phase. What then with their study based on assumption. In the bin!

  84. Alan the Brit says:

    Yet another projection/prediction? Can anyone tell me what projection/prediction has actually come true?

  85. Rhys Jaggar says:

    ‘this has happened for 30 years, so it must continue for another 70′

    that’s the nub of the argument.

    It is the most critical argument to have in climatology currently. Because I don’t buy that postulate. And also, as a person who studied biology quite a bit, I know that species’ populations can go wildly up and then wildly down without extinction coming. It’s entirely normal. It happens with salmon, it happens with rabbits, it happens with loads of species. So a 9% change in pine trees is piffling, in my opinion. Piffling.

    Of course, the bark beetle should be monitored carefully.

    But the world won’t end if 50% of the pines disappear, because the potential for regeneration will clearly be there. It’s only if you lose 99.9% that loss of species is likely……..

    IMHO.

  86. Frank says:

    And here i was thinking that warmer climate led to wider three rings (thriving trees) as proposed in paleoclimatic studies, but all along warmer weather causes trees to die. This would require a total rework of the hockeystick graph.

  87. Peter Taylor says:

    In February 2010 I visited my old colleague Professor Emeritus, Jackson Davis, in Boulder, Colorado (I live in Somerset, England). Jackson is a marine biologist, but has always had an active involvement in environmental politics (he cofounded the environmental policy programme at the Monterey Institute for Policy Studies) – and my task was to brief him on what we might call the ‘sceptics’ position on climate change. As he helped to create the IPCC and wrote the working draft of the Kyoto Protocol, and went on the represent the Pacific island states coalition of interests at the climate convention, I had an uphill task! He was intensely sceptical of my analysis.

    We took a day out to go walking in the Rockies. As we headed for a particular valley, where his grandfather had participated in work camps, he pointed out the large areas of red and dying pines and the beetle infestation – all down to global warming. I remarked that recently it had been admitted that 1934 was the warmest year in the contiguous states record. We eventually reached the valley and there was a plaque with a photograph of his grandfather’s tented encampment – it was black-and-white and you could see little difference relating to tree cover between then and now – and I noticed the date on the plaque….1934!

    ‘What was your grandfather doing here?’ I asked.
    ‘Cutting down dead pine trees’, he replied….with a laugh.

    Maybe that was the turning point in my old friend’s mind. He has since revisited the ‘basic science’ and like me, is shocked at the poor quality.

    I would be interested to see this paper – interested particularly to see how it deals with cyclic phenomena, if at all!

  88. Steamboat Jon says:

    USDA/FS with other federal inter-agency and state and local partners have come along way from the days of “all fire is bad” (a hold over from just before WWII and continued well after WWII). Fire management and resource management go hand in hand and it is a part of and specialty of forestry and land management degrees for sometime now. The problem with the Routt blowdown of 1997 was the size/scope and fuel load that developed from all the downed trees. Yes mild winters (and follow-on drought years) made the situation worse (and led to bark beetle problem), one particularly bad fire season in several states was summer 2002 as the drought had lasted several years and we had several major fires going (I can’t recall the numbers but our forest had well over 800 fires that season, all of them natural in origin). That season the Routt NF got very lucky for the most part and conditions allowed a great deal of the fuel load to be reduced. Unfortunately the fires under this fuel load tend to damage the ecosystem and take generations to bounce back. So while not all fire is bad, all really hot fires are destructive and when you face large fuel loads hot and destructive is all you get. The bark beetle has protracted and spread the problem as it has moved from forest to forest and caused a die off of so many trees (adding fuel for future fires).

  89. Alberta Slim says:

    The 2010 Winter Olympic Games made use of the MPB wood.
    The ice skating oval is an example see this:
    http://www.bcbusinessonline.ca/bcb/business-sense/2010/02/03/pine-beetle-wood-spurs-innovation

    I apologize if this has already been posted.

  90. Ulric Lyons says:

    “After that, continued climatic changes are expected to accelerate the species’ demise.

    I expect the cold winters over the next 13yrs will be the demise of their climatic forecast.

  91. beng says:

    I’ll bet the “fact” that a certain level of “cold” kills the bark-beetles is bunk.

    It was also a “fact” that cold prevented the westward movement of the introduced woolly adelgid, which is decimating eastern hemlocks in the central Appalachians. Recently I find out this is bunk — it is limited somewhat, not by cold, but by other environmental/ecological reasons as it moves westward, and it can survive temps well below what was previously assumed.

  92. Ed Dahlgren says:

    (known here previously and elsewhere in the Blogosphere as Mister Ed or mr_ed)

    You’d want to see the article – and especially the data on all 12,600 sites – to really dig in and review the thing.

    (1) For example, is this just part of the PR hyping it?

    “[L]odgepole pine is expected to be able to survive in only 17 percent of its current range in the western parts of North America….

    “After that [2020], continued climatic changes are expected to accelerate the species’ demise. By 2080, it is projected to be almost absent from Oregon, Washington and Idaho, some of the areas facing the most dramatic changes.”

    (my emphasis)

    [T]he species’ demise” – are they talking about extinction? The rest of it sounds more like extirpation, and it’s either culpably misleading or annoyingly sloppy to suggest one when you mean the other. Even Dutch Elm Disease, which was apparently hugely, enormously devastating to the host species, didn’t manage to wipe it out in North America.

    (2) Do they have enough data to tie this to climate?

    “The researchers concluded that some of these forces have been at work since at least 1980….

    “’For skeptics of climate change, it’s worth noting that the increase in vulnerability of lodgepole pine we’ve seen in recent decades….’”

    Even a three-decade trend doesn’t seem long enough to correlate with climate. Not that I’d demand to see 1,000 years of proxy data for pheromone levels {grin}, but still. How far back does reliable quantitative data on pine-beetle damage go?

    So, from me, no conclusions based just on this announcement.

  93. LKMiller says:

    As a professional forester, would like to add a few words on this issue. What is almost always missing in the discussions of bark beetles killing large areas of lodgepole pine and other conifers in the northern Rockies is the simple fact that many of these forests so affected are over-mature and overstocked (too dense). This situation came about because those who “manage” federal forests have almost completely abdicated their responsibilities. It is almost impossible now to even cut a green stick on the National Forests today, so even-aged forests (even-aged due to earlier, very large stand replacing wildfires started largely by lightning) become over stocked, over mature and thus, stressed and susceptible to beetle attack.

    Had these forests been managed, the areas affected by beetles would be much smaller, and the epidemic would be much shorter in duration.

    One last thing: Researchers behave as if the west has never had extended periods of drought in the past. We all know this is nonsense, but somehow now the current drought has to be caused by anthropogenic CO2.

    [sarcasm off]

  94. Pamela Gray says:

    I predict that global anthropogenic climate change scientists will discover that said climate change will cause a gradual diminution of these beetles to the point that they will end up on the endangered species list, thus preventing any logging of these dead trees due to negative impacts associated with the destruction of natural pine beetle habitat. The grant for this research is already being written. Trust me, the folks in Ivory Towers see the writing on the wall and won’t let the coming cold decades go to waste.

  95. elmer says:

    They should check for increased levels of Aluminum, this could be what is causing them to die.

  96. Steve Keohane says:

    The researchers concluded that some of these forces have been at work since at least 1980, Yep, it was warming by then as others have pointed out, and beetles advanced. As it gets colder they will retreat. Aside from growing back if they are harvested, other species will infill if the area is left alone. It seems to me the different species would trade off areas as the minor temperature variations shift back and forth. We can see at the current tree lines, trees once existed higher, during warmer times in the past, as well as being exposed by retreating glaciers, further evidence of previously warmer times. Since this is Gore’s latest call to arms alms, it’s hard to take it seriously.

  97. Tain says:

    The beetles are by far the most important factor in the decline of lodgepole pines. In general, with mtn pine beetles, the timing of the cold is the most important factor. In winter, these critters hibernate, and their blood transforms to act like a kind of anti-freeze, and the cold may have little effect on them. Control of the population occurs when there are early Automn freezes, or late Spring freezes, ie. before/after they come out of hibernation.

    The Government of Alberta has a good information sheet on mtn pine beetle and cold temperatures that can be found here:

    http://www.mpb.alberta.ca/Files/pdf/MPBOverwinteringSheet-Jan2010.pdf

  98. Juraj V. says:

    However, warming temperatures, less winter precipitation

    I thought the latest consensus was the precipitation will increase?

  99. Terry W says:

    Data of 30 years (1980) is enough to evaluate trees that live 80+ years? Bad land management has been going on for that amount of time also, if not longer. AGW – a cause grasping for confirmation.

  100. Dr. Dave says:

    About a decade ago we had a 3 year span of hot, dry summers with miserly monsoon seasons and warm, dry winters here in northern NM. In the space of a single season the Bark Beetles wiped out about 1/3 of all the Piñon pines in the region. The explanation given by the forestry experts was that drought weakens and stresses the trees thereby making them more susceptible to bark beetle infestation. Naturally the bark beetle population exploded and a lot of trees died. Then we had a cold, snowy winter followed by several years of excellent winter snowpack and generous monsoon seasons. The remaining trees grew stronger and the bark beetle population dwindled as healthy trees can effectively fight off infestation.

    The whole “catastrophic devastation of the Piñons” was chalked up to an extended dry spell. These periods of extended drought are quite common in the region and have been well documented for over 100 years. The entire event was quite natural and only the weakest trees died. The trees that survived are flourishing. I suppose it was, indeed, due to “climate change”. The climate became drier and warmer for a period of several years before it became cooler and wetter.

  101. ferd berple says:

    anyone that has lived in the pacific northwest and put a pine on the fire can tell you why beetles are a problem. the pine tree is nothing like other trees. it burns like it is soaked in gasoline. humans caused the pine beetle problem by stopping natural burning that occurs every summer from lightning strikes. it is no different than the decrease in frog population caused by fungus carried by scientists doing the measurement. Misguided human decisions, not temperature are the source of the problem.

  102. Douglas says:

    Well (this pine (Pinus contorta) is in no danger of dying out due to any climate change. It is a most aggressive species. It was introduced into N.Z. in the 1920’s as a timber species and is now classified as a weed in many districts of this country invading pasture and other land. It seems to cope with our rather mild climate quite well thank you, crowding out native species. So – no worries about it’s survival per se.

    The real problem associated with this in North America seems to be the pine bark beetle. I notice that fire is an important element in the ecology of P. contorta forests. Maybe it is part of the management of the beetle too. So perhaps they should be looking at the total ecological envelope.

    Douglas

  103. Oliver Ramsay says:

    Tain says:
    March 1, 2011 at 7:49 am

    The beetles are by far the most important factor in the decline of lodgepole pines. In general, with mtn pine beetles, the timing of the cold is the most important factor. In winter, these critters hibernate, and their blood transforms to act like a kind of anti-freeze, and the cold may have little effect on them. Control of the population occurs when there are early Automn freezes, or late Spring freezes, ie. before/after they come out of hibernation.
    —————————————
    So, what constrains the population in Mexico and other much milder parts of its range?
    The worst infestations have occurred in the coldest regions.
    This is also true for dendroctonus rufipennis, ponderosae’s cousin. Alaska has seen very extensive destruction of spruce forests.
    People are very keen to ascribe causes, especially human, such as fire suppression and global warming. Actually, we don’t know how it all works.

  104. klem says:

    I love the photo of the lodgepole pine forest provided above. The forest is clearly sitting on a glacially scoured valley. I guess climate change giveth the lodgpole pine to Western North America, and climate change shall taketh away.

  105. We have very little Lodgepole pine in the mountains down here (San Bernardino Mtns in southern CA). The pine beetle infestation/kill during the drought a few years back instead took place in stands of Coulter pines, another fast-growing, fire-prone type of pine that grew down here after the pioneers logged off most of the large Ponderosa. Huge stands of 50-200 year old trees would turn orange on one weekend. I watched this happen to a large stand adjacent to my property.

    I took great pains to drip water the 30 pines that exist on my own property that summer, and we lost only a couple which happenned to be directly in the path of westerly-trending wind coming from the killed stand adjacent. I assume there was too many beetles for even a healthy, well-watered tree to resist.

    Since the kill, the recovery of the Coulter pines has been rapid, with the green of the young new trees overtaking the standing dead, which are slowly falling and disappearing below the canopy. There’s still a few bigger, older trees killed by the beetles each year, but nothing like during the drought year.

    And so the cycle will repeat itself eventually, without a fire to suppress the rapid growth of the new Coulters coming up, when similar conditions arise. When we suppress the natural fires, nature finds a different way to thin out the forest.

  106. Richard Hanson says:

    One of the more informative books regarding this issue is “Fire in Sierra Nevada Forests” A Photographic Interpretation of Ecological Change Since 1849 by George E. Gruell. What Gruell did was to attempt to duplicate landscape photographs of Forests in the Sierra Nevada taken since as early as 1849 up to 1919 from the same spot as the original photo. He did this over a two year period of 1993-1994. The book contains 84 photos of the forests spanning the length of the Sierra Nevada at varying elevations. As stated by the publisher. “Gruell asks readers to study the evidence , then take part in current debates over prescribed fire, fuel buildup , logging, and the management of our national forests”. Looking at the original photographs, especially the ones of areas that had not been logged, and then comparing those to the more recent photos, it is clear to me that the forests were far less dense a 100+ years ago than currently and that the primary reason was modern fire suppression. I doubt that a change in climate had much to do with this because this observation is evident in photos from relatively low elevations to high elevations throughout the Sierras and the fact that the span of the photos from 1849 to about 1920 contains a period of changing climate within itself.

  107. Zeke the Sneak says:

    According to local sources here (the NW), pesticides are effective against bark beetles for higher value trees. Grants are also available to private land owners to eradicate these blighters. But for the Feds I think they have actually taken a do-nothing approach, and so the beetle gets to epidemic proportions.

    It is like having a neighbor that grows thousands of roses on his property, but does not control the aphids. He is in effect breeding them and infecting the neighborhood.

    The important lesson here is that for the so-called forest “management,” pesicides have far more stigma attached to them than deadly pests. Some towns will not even spray one single tree which is infected. Timely use of sprays is an important part of management, along with thinning. The people in the east should take this as a lesson. The Japanese Beetle is a threat able to wipe out all of the hardwood forests.

  108. Al Gored says:

    Oliver Ramsay says:
    March 1, 2011 at 9:24 am

    “So, what constrains the population in Mexico and other much milder parts of its range?
    The worst infestations have occurred in the coldest regions.
    This is also true for dendroctonus rufipennis, ponderosae’s cousin. Alaska has seen very extensive destruction of spruce forests.
    People are very keen to ascribe causes, especially human, such as fire suppression and global warming. Actually, we don’t know how it all works.”

    —-

    No, we actually do know how this works.

    To answer your questions, the lodgepole pine is the primary host for these major epidemics, and they are not found in Mexico. Because of its survival strategy and stand characteristics – even-aged monoculture-like stands – it is the species that can provide sufficient mt pine beetle habitat to support epidemics. Ponderosa, for those same reasons, do not except under what were once freak conditions but are now widespread because of fire suppression.

    The lodgepole pine is the only host species found “in the coldest regions.”

    Mountain pine beetles do not attack spruces, in Alaska or anywhere else, except incidentally during hyperabundant epidemics. So that is another story.

    True, that people cannot ‘blame’ this on AGW but they can blame it on fire suppression. I tried to explain all this in my post February 28, 2011 at 9:40 pm

    Here’s the key point from that:

    “The bottom line here is simple. No matter how warm winters had been (and fall is actually the critical period), these huge epidemics could never have happened without all this unnatural habitat.”

    This realtes to the comment (Tain says: March 1, 2011 at 7:49 am) which you responded to which stated:

    “The beetles are by far the most important factor in the decline of lodgepole pines.”

    Should read “MATURE or OLD lodgepole pines.” So all this talk about reduction of these or any pines as a species is utterly ridiculous. If I have my movie analogies right, this beetle is more like Harrison Ford in ‘Blade Runner,’ eliminating the older people for the long term benefit of the whole population.

    P.S. I first worked on this beetle back in the 1970′s when this supposedly ‘unprecedented’ AGW problem hit the mature pine forests of Glacier-Waterton national parks and adjacent SE BC.

  109. Zeke the Sneak says:

    Asian Longhorn Beetles are no fun either. Another girdler in the cambium layer. I have seen one in Oregon near a Christmas tree farm, but it had no white spots. Just as big as a quarter, and long antenae.

    http://www.treehelp.com/itemRelations.asp?Choice=30

  110. Tim Clark says:

    such as Douglas-fir, grand fir and ponderosa pine, which are also more drought-tolerant.

    Apparently, these species evolved when the earth was warmer or where it is warmer now. So, is the premise of the author that this species needs to be saved at all costs for emotional reasons, rather than logical?

    The species historically has played important ecological and cultural roles.

  111. Mac the Knife says:

    The lead photo looks like it was taken from Rattle Snake Ledge (looking SE), just a few miles south of North Bend WA.

  112. Al Gored says:

    The photo used to illustrate this article is potentially very informative. Note the patchiness of the beetle killed trees. I can’t tell from the photo but what it shows is typical, with only the mature lp stands being killed while the younger stands (or patches of spruce) are not. In extreme epidemics the beetles become so abundant that they can attack younger trees or even spruce trees but those young pines do not have a sufficiently thick cambium layer to provide viable beetle habitat, and spruce trees are not viable mt pine beetle hosts.

    That latter point is also informative. The same AGW gang that is teamed up with the Biodiversity Crisis gang is being deliberately blind to biodiversity, and the simple fact that biodiversity is all about different species being adapted to exploit different niches. The mt pine beetle has specific hosts, primarily lp and a few other western pines, yet when the epidemics in BC were exploding they were warning that it was going to spread all across Canada – even though there are no host tree species any further east than the range of lodgepole pine (and further south, Ponderosa pine). It was funny to read those ridiculous scare stories, but also sad that that kind of misinformation was being pumped out and that people were believing it.

  113. Richard Scott says:

    I am a retired silviculturist. A silviculturist is a person who manages timber. I was responsible for timber management on about 200,000 acres in Oregon. I have worked in both Montana and Oregon and know a little about lodgepole pine and the pine beetle.

    As a silviculturist, I needed to keep up with the latest science. In doing so, you learn which scientists do good work and which ones do crap. Richard Waring does good work. So we need to take his findings seriously, but that doesn’t mean his determination of cause and effect is correct.

    The bark beetle is a huge limiting factor for lodgepole pine. When a tree reaches decent size, it’s ice cream for the beetle. It overwinters under the bark. If snow depths are high, the snow, which maintains a fairly constant temp, protects the beetle. But a cold year with little snow hammers the bugs. So bug populations are a function of weather patterns. And since the beetle takes out trees when they reach a certain size, the ultimate size potential of lodgepole pine is limited by the beetle–a natural selection process working against the fastest growing trees. Without the pine beetle you might see lodgepoles reaching the sizes of ponderosas and other large western species.

    70, 80 year old trees are coming into their prime, for the beetle and for use as timber.

    In 1910 there were a series of devastating fires over large portions of the west. This led to a policy of trying to have all fires out by 10 am the next day. That policy was followed up until the late 80′s or into the 90′s. So, how old would lodgepoles be that germinated in 1911? Prime time for beetles. Add in millions of acres of lodgepoles existing that are or were in the prime age range, unrelated to the 1910 burns–they never get too old for the beetles.

    One other detail. When the beetle burrows under the bark it carries with it a fungus that rapidly decays the wood after the tree dies.

    Then in the 1980′s, just when huge amounts of lodgepoles were coming into their prime for the beetles environmental restrictions made it harder and harder to put up a timber sale. When there was an outbreak, the time it took to plan and sell a timber sale took so long that the timber was often worthless before it could be logged. Planning a Forest Service timber sale takes months, involving teams that usually include wildlife biologists, fisheries biologists, endangered species biologists, soil scientists, as well as foresters and perhaps other specialists, depending on the sale. We had timber sales in Oregon that were appealed by people 2000 miles away in Michigan–just using the system because the environmental laws say they can. And each appeal had to be addressed, even if everyone knew the appeal was baseless.

    Complicating the situation is access. Lodgepole is low value timber. Access requires roads. Road building is often the most expensive part of a timber sale. If the sale can’t cover the cost of the roads required to access the timber, you can’t sell the timber. These days, in the name of watershed protection or lack of road maintenance funds the Forest Service is closing roads all over the place. Closing means tearing up the roadbed. So a beetle outbreak in a remote area may require rebuilding roads that were perfectly good a few years ago.

    In the “good old days” if you had the beginnings of an outbreak, you could rush out and log the affected area before the outbreak spread. Falling the timber, letting the logs dry exposed to the sun, killed most of the beetles and hauling the logs to the mill took them out of the susceptible area.

    So we have had a policy that for decades has preserved lodgepoles for the beetles combined with policies that hamper any response to an outbreak, combined with weather patterns that favor the beetle overwinter survival. What should we expect, other than a huge problem?

    One other thing: Fires remove some soil nutrients, particularly nitrogen, and the hotter the fire, the greater the nutrient impact. Conversely, protecting an area from fire allows soils to become richer and more productive. In addition, these northern, high elevation sites accumulate organic matter faster than it can decompose under the tree canopy because of cool temperatures. Protecting lodgepole stands from fire improves the site productivity, making some of them more suitable for Douglas-firs and other species. If the beetle takes out a stand and it isn’t logged or burned, the new site conditions may allow these other species to take over.

  114. Hu McCulloch says:

    But it makes these adaptations by growing more slowly, and as the subalpine environment becomes less harsh, lodgepole pine may increasingly be displaced by other species such as Douglas-fir, grand fir and ponderosa pine, which are also more drought-tolerant.

    Climate changes, for natural and perhaps also anthropogenic reasons. As it does, the dominant species will change. This means we will have to adapt to the new environment, but that’s what humans have always been good at!

  115. Tad says:

    I live in the Rocky Mountain West and have seen how those darned pine beetles are killing these trees. I wonder how these scientists were able to separate out the effects of the beetles from the effect due to warming temperatures.

  116. Duster says:

    It never seems that people who want to be alarmed are unable to find something to alarmed about. Lodge pole are a species that fall into that group of species that are occasionally referred to as “pioneer” species. They move into wet meadows as sedimentation converts meadows to a drier state, and they are in turn pushed out by taller, thirstier trees like red fir, hemlock and Douglas fir. Anyone who bothers to do some historical research, especially of old photographs, will find that there are more trees in the US at present than at anytime in the country’s history. This is a direct result of fire suppression, which permits more seedlings to become established and for a thriving understory to develop.

    If you work with fire fighters in forested ares in the west, you encounter terms such as “fire ladder” reflecting the gradient from dead fuel on forest floors, with brush, young trees, older trees and mature trees creating a “ladder” that a fire can climb from the ground to the crowns of the largest trees. American Indians in California and Oregon tended to set fires periodically in many areas, artificially suppressing succession and creating open “park like” forests. They also burned grass lands encouraging perennial, deep rooted species at the expense of shallow rooted, annuals whose seeds were destroyed by the fires, or whose shallow root systems were killed before seeding could occur. This burning achieved a number of things including encouraging useful early succession plants such as squaw grass, huckleberry, improving browse for deer, and for a number of other useful ends.

    The suppression of indian burning opened the door to biological succession patterns that had been limited by fire. During the early 20th century, the decision to attampt to fully suppress all fires lead to “natural” states that have NEVER BEFORE existed. Even prior to indian burning practices became wide spread natural fires created a patch work of age stands and species mixes. Before blaming “climate change” it would make sense to actually determine whether we really know what we speak of.

  117. Oliver Ramsay says:

    Al Gored says:
    March 1, 2011 at 11:16 am

    To answer your questions, the lodgepole pine is the primary host for these major epidemics, and they are not found in Mexico. Because of its survival strategy and stand characteristics – even-aged monoculture-like stands – it is the species that can provide sufficient mt pine beetle habitat to support epidemics. Ponderosa, for those same reasons, do not except under what were once freak conditions but are now widespread because of fire suppression.
    ——————————
    Lodgepole may not be found in Mexico but Mountain Pine beetle is.
    Temperature is clearly not the potential constraint in the warm regions that it could be in the cold ones and since beetles tend to concentrate very strongly in a few trees, rather than diffuse their attack across the stand, they do not exterminate themselves by wiping out their future hosts, bearing in mind that if a tree is hit even fairly lightly, it will be dead within the year.
    I did fall and burn tree disposal of MPB for several years in areas where lodgepole was the predominant species and, also, in relatively isolated pockets amidst spruce, hemlock, doug fir and thuja. We usually re-baited, the following year, areas that we had treated and would return in the fall to assess the trees and then destroy the infestations.
    From year to year there was considerable variation in intensity of outbreak and very little consistency across the region as a whole. There could be a jackpot of red trees in one spot and a few miles away, very few, then the next year it could be reversed.
    My point about the related spruce bark beetle in Alaska was that it does get cold there and wildfire suppression has not been the cause of death for every mature spruce from Glenallen to Valdez.
    Incidentally, Lodgepole is not the only host in the coldest regions. It is predominant but there’s lots of White pine, too.
    We got paid by the tree and disliked White pine because they got hit right up to the top and they grow bigger than LP, so that meant a lot more work.

  118. Al Gored says:

    Oliver Ramsay says:
    March 1, 2011 at 1:47 pm

    Hi Oliver. Don’t want to be too much of a nitpicker here but I think you are missing some points in your comment, mostly due to overgeneralization.

    For example… “since beetles tend to concentrate very strongly in a few trees, rather than diffuse their attack across the stand, they do not exterminate themselves by wiping out their future hosts, bearing in mind that if a tree is hit even fairly lightly, it will be dead within the year.”

    During epidemic events, in typical even-aged lp stands, this isn’t true. They kill off the whole stand if those trees are mature. But true, they definitely do not kill off their “future hosts” – by killing those stands, and creating a fire waiting to happen, they kick start their next cycle of hosts when those new pines mature.

    And true about the lp not being the only host – as I too have noted in each post – but it is the simplest species to understand how this cycle works. As for the western white pine, it doesn’t grow in areas as cold as the lp and now, just to make life more complicated, an introduced rust often kills them off when they mature as well.

    The simplest way to effectively end this cycle would be to simply log these lp pine stands – or large patches of them at least – before they mature and become beetle habitat. Since their growth rate declines dramatically as they mature, not much net wood would be sacrificed to do that. Of course, that ain’t going to happen in parks and wilderness areas. This beetle would have turned huge swaths of Yellowstone red then dead were it not for the fires that beat them to it. That’s basically the lp story. If fire doesn’t get them these beetles will. Just a matter of time. So ‘old growth’ lp stands are rare freaks of nature, and in BC there were vast swaths of them due to fire suppression, and that’s what made things so bad there.

    Now, just to be clear, I too have necessarily overgeneralized here, and there are exceptions when one starts talking about forests where lp is a minor component. And things are significantly different for species like ponderosa pines which are fire-adapted in a different way; that is, regular light fires eliminate their competition while the mature trees survive them… compared to lp stands which are flammable by design, and need destructive fires to wipe the slate clean so they can continue to dominate an area. Without fire, the spruces for example, which can start growing in their shade, and which are long living, just take over… while lp, which are shade intolerant, cannot start under spruces.

    Anyhow, no matter how warm it is/was, these mt pine beetle epidemics could not occur without huge amounts of beetle habitat, and that habitat was created by Smokey the Bear. That has caused endless problems, including the increased intensity of fires now also blamed on AGW. Really caused by fuel buildups.

  119. Steve from rockwood says:

    Before the so-called scientists get too far along attributing the demise of the pine tree to global warming they should explain what effect reforestation has had on these ecosystems, especially when mixed forests were replaced exclusively with pine trees. I flew from Princeton to Prince George by helicopter in 2010 and saw a lot of pine trees and a lot of forest fires. Makes me wonder what would happen to those poor beetles if they stopped replanting pine trees altogether. Probably be on the endangered species list.

  120. This nonsense of the mountain pine beetles devestating pine forests just doesn’t seem to go away. Even, Al Gore mentions this in his book An Inconvenient Truth. However, Al Gore and this paper conveniently forget to mention that MPB infestations run in about 30 to 40 year cycles and have nothing to do with agw (Carroll et al, 2004). There are four distinct phases of this cycle: Endemic, incipient, epidemic, and declining. These cycles are probably more influenced by the PDO, double lunar nodal cycle, and/or triple solar cycle than anything else.

  121. Al Gored says:

    Steve from rockwood says:
    March 1, 2011 at 2:50 pm

    Until very recently they never replanted lodgepole pines in BC. They were seen as a ‘weed species’ when they had other species in abundance. Those fires you saw effectively replanted them, if they were burning where lps were growing. So when you look down [from] a helicopter all those even aged stands – of various ages – are each the product of a fire.

    So when you note “what effect reforestation has had on these ecosystems” you really mean the fire history there, and that has been a history of fire suppression which allowed all that pine to mature, and become beetle habitat.

    But the mt pine beetle won’t be on any endangered species list. It is always in forest ecosystems where its host species live in small numbers attacking mature individual trees, which if they are healthy enough and beetles are few enough can survive those infestations.

    That said, given how loony things are, I can almost imagine a photo of a mt pine beetle stranded on an ice floe in a WWF fund-raising brochure… almost.

  122. Oliver Ramsay says:

    Al Gored says:
    March 1, 2011 at 2:47 pm
    “As for the western white pine, it doesn’t grow in areas as cold as the lp and now, just to make life more complicated, an introduced rust often kills them off when they mature as well.”
    ———
    But, it does grow in the colder parts of MPB’s range, and people have been talking about blister rust wiping out White pine for years but it hasn’t happened yet.
    ——–

    “Anyhow, no matter how warm it is/was, these mt pine beetle epidemics could not occur without huge amounts of beetle habitat, and that habitat was created by Smokey the Bear. That has caused endless problems, including the increased intensity of fires now also blamed on AGW. Really caused by fuel buildups.”
    —————————
    We agree that LP’s growth slows and spruce/ balsam take over if fire doesn’t get there first. But the Cariboo and Chilcotin areas of BC, which are enormous, have been in pine for a much longer time than fire-fighting has been going on. Sure, there are spruce stands, too, and they’re not immune to fire.
    Why are there no big fir/hemlock forests? Because fire or logging don’t give them the opportunity. They take too long to come in under the pioneer canopy and attempts to plant fir without the benefit of the overstorey have not been very successful. There are lots of Doug fir vets mixed in with the pine because individual fir trees survive fires.
    When you pass a logging truck in that country you can count 120 logs to a load; that’s not big, mature timber.
    Humans didn’t cause the MPB thing. Not by AGW and not by putting out all the forest fires.
    Anyway, remember AGW causes all those fires so that proves we haven’t eliminated them all!

  123. dbleader61 says:

    In the book “America’s Ancient Forests from Ice Age to the Age of Discovery” a decidedly less alarmist tone to is taken by forester Dr. Thomas M. Bonnicksen. He also has a different view on climate change than his OSU/UBC colleagues. An excerpt

    “The forests (read plant communities) we see today have an aura of permanence. They seem like finished works of art. However, history shows that they assembled from species that moved from place to place in response to climatic changes (that are natural). The climate may again be shifting to a temporary warming trend. We do not know. We do know that a new glacial age has begun and that our forests will change as the climate changes. Each species will move to a favourable environment independently of other species. When they meet one another, a new forest (read plant community) will form. Then today’s forests will look primeval and the new forests will look modern to those who see them.”

  124. Wayne Delbeke says:

    jae says:
    February 28, 2011 at 7:31 pm
    —————————————————————————————–
    Don’t look now Jae, but there is lots of fir in Colorado:
    http://esp.cr.usgs.gov/data/atlas/little/abielasi.pdf
    http://esp.cr.usgs.gov/data/atlas/little/abieconc.pdf

    Perhaps you were thinking of the Nunavit FUR tree … it has a wide tripod like base, covered in white fur tipped with long black claws and huge white teeth … /sarc off
    —————————————————————————————————
    jae says:
    February 28, 2011 at 7:31 pm
    “If you could travel back in time to Summit County, Colorado before the miners arrived you would see a patchwork quilt of burned areas, thick lodgepole stands and old growth fir and spruce stands. Unfortunately the miners logged it all and it was replaced with Lodgepole which has now reached its old age and is now being consumed by bugs due to fire supression.”

    Is this just a Colorado pipe-dream, or do you have some data to support your “hypothesis??” Old-growth fir? In Colorado? What kind of “fir,”

  125. LadyLife Grows says:

    This illustrates one of the more serious biological consequences of tolerating the warming lie. It provides a handy explanation for adverse biological events which totally excuses all parties concerned from doing a REAL investigation and finding the actual cause. So the harm continues.

  126. Al Gored says:

    Oliver Ramsay says:
    March 1, 2011 at 4:34 pm

    You ought to look at some historic photos and see what the ‘natural’ forests of the West looked like under ‘natural’ fire regimes. And by ‘natural’ I mean with Native people lighting most of the fires, for a variety of very pragmatic survival reasons.

    That rust won’t ‘wipe out’ WWP because it only attacks the mature and old ones. Same reason why the mt pine beetle won’t ‘wipe out’ lps.

    “Why are there no big fir/hemlock forests?”

    There are but there are a lot less of them now due to logging. But Interior Douglas Fir are another fire-adapted species in the same way as Ponderosa pines are… those beautiful parklike stands of big vets are maintained by regular light fires. Now that fire suppression has stopped those regular fuel reductions, many of those forest are choked with young trees which not only add heat when burned but provide bridges for the fires to reach up into the canopies of the big trees and kill them.

    As for hemlock, they grow in much moister areas where fire is less of a factor… like red cedars and coastal D Firs. So that’s a different story. Those relatively long living trees naturally become the classic ‘rain forest’ old growth forests than some people – notably misinformed environmentalists – imagine all forest become.

    Anyhow, I think we fully agree that AGW didn’t cause the recent epidemic in BC and elsewhere, although mild winters did enable it to become so huge and spread so far north and east into Alberta.

  127. Doug says:

    It is obvious it can’t be temperature related.

    Compare Bend, Oregon and West Yellowstone, Montana. Both areas have huge numbers of Lodgepole killed by pine beetles. Assuming the post by Rattus Norvegicus above is correct that hard October freezes are a key to temperature control of the bugs.

    Bend: Average October low 32, record 0
    West Yellowstone, Average October low 22, record -20

    These two areas show similar patterns of infestation, but their temperature differences are far more than the observed warming. Fire suppression is a much more likely culpret.

  128. chris b says:

    Courtesy of my alma mater, UBC, Forestry Dept. magazine, Branchlines volume 22#1:

    CONS 210- Anew course in visualizing climate change.

    A central theme of UBC’s Sustainability Initiative to integrate
    sustainability in teaching, research
    and campus operations is the university as an agent of change in the
    community. One way of empowering students and researchers to
    improve awareness and accelerate
    action on sustainability is to help
    them harness the power of visual
    media in communicating scientific
    information to lay-people.
    To this end, the Faculty of Forestry has developed and piloted
    a new course (led by Dr Stephen
    Sheppard, Department of Forest
    Resources Management), Visualizing Climate Change (CONS 210).
    This course explores some of our
    latest climate change research
    through a range of visualization
    media that can enhance learning:
    3D landscape visualizations, Hollywood movie special effects, video
    games, Google Earth, remote sensing imagery, GIS mapping, and data
    visualization. The course is aimed at
    2nd and 3rd year undergraduates
    from across campus, with no prerequisites. Making the course open
    to both arts and science students is
    important, since we need an interdisciplinary approach in understanding the social and environmental impacts of climate change
    and creating real-world solutions.
    The course uses team-based learning methods and emphasizes
    interactive learning with ‘clickers’
    and collaborative exercises. CONS
    210 is one of several new major
    sustainability-themed classes and
    programs offered this academic
    year (see http://www.sustain.ubc.ca/
    teaching-learning/).
    A primary objective of Visualizing Climate Change is to advance
    students’ broader understanding
    of climate change and how it links
    to people’s everyday lives in multiple ways. The course provides
    a grounding in key concepts of
    climate change causes, effects, vulnerabilities, and human response
    strategies, structured around standard ways of projecting future scenarios. A second objective is to give
    our students the techniques and
    confidence to communicate with
    their peers and associates on solutions to the climate crisis. Part of the
    course reviews the pros and cons
    of different types of visual media.
    Students learn that visualizations
    such as the disaster movie The
    Day After Tomorrow or dramatic ……….

    …..You Tube social marketing pieces can motivate people,
    but too many doom and gloom dramatizations can
    have a paralyzing effect, and the science is not always
    accurately communicated. Conversely, showing people
    ways to help mitigate and adapt to climate change in
    their own communities – through things like urban
    forestry, solar power and bioenergy, retrofitting homes,
    electric vehicles and local food production – can really
    get people thinking about solutions and the choices
    they can take.
    The course is supported by several scientists conducting cutting-edge research in climate change adaptation
    and mitigation, addressing: forest ecosystems and assisted
    migration of tree species; glaciers and snowpack; carbon
    sequestration, wildfire risk management, renewable
    energy and biomass, urban heat islands, energy policy
    and community perceptions. Co-instructors in the pilot
    version of this course included faculty members from
    Forestry, Earth and Ocean Sciences and Geography.
    For their term project, students worked in groups
    to develop a plan for communicating science on a climate change topic relevant to a non-expert Canadian
    audience. The goal was to build awareness of possible
    climate change implications for the audience’s geographic or interest area, and stimulate thinking on the
    topic. The students had to identify the basic science
    content that the plan would cover and describe the
    types of visual media to be used, consistent with principles for effective, compelling, and defensible public
    engagement. Groups chose to develop communication
    plans for a High School class on the climate impacts
    on forest ecosystems, for provincial educators of grade
    5-7 pupils on renewable energy, and for local elected
    officials on adapting to sea level rise, among others.
    Prototype communication approaches developed by
    the students included:
    • a cartoon storyboard of the carbon cycle and green
    energy sources, linking to future visualizations of tidal
    energy generators and a North Vancouver windfarm;
    • a Smart Board workshop for Grade 8 students in Williams Lake on their relationship to shrinking glaciers
    and snowpack; and
    • a design for a video game called “Last Stand” that
    explores pine beetle epidemic/restoration scenarios
    from the standpoint of a company CEO, a politician,
    and an environmentalist.
    The pilot year of the course taught us a lot about
    the benefits and challenges of learning about climate
    change and applying visual media to engage others
    in that same learning process. We acknowledge the
    invaluable support for this course from the Pacific
    Institute for Climate Solutions, Pacific Climate Impacts
    Consortium, Metro Vancouver, UBC Media Services,
    the USI’s Spotlight funding program, and stellar teaching assistants Ana Elia Ramon and Scott Krayenhoff.
    For more information on this new course, visit: www.
    sustain.ubc.ca/teaching-learning/featured-content/
    visualizing-climate-change.

    Dr Stephen Sheppard has recently completed a book on
    “Visualizing Climate Change” as a text for next year’s class.
    He can be reached at stephen.sheppard@ubc.ca

    Yikes.

  129. Wayne Delbeke says:

    Robert says:
    February 28, 2011 at 7:57 pm
    Oh no it this thread again :)

    From what i understand is that this beetle is a poor flyer and rivers form a major obstacle for them until we provided the means of transport for them in the form of bridges and transportation of felled trees across the country.
    ————————————————————————————————-
    Nope. They can be carried hundreds of miles by wind. They were carried right over the Rocky Mountains from BC into Alberta. Water is not an obstacle.

  130. Oliver Ramsay says:

    Al Gored says:
    March 1, 2011 at 5:10 pm
    “Anyhow, I think we fully agree that AGW didn’t cause the recent epidemic in BC and elsewhere, although mild winters did enable it to become so huge and spread so far north and east into Alberta.”
    ——————————-
    Yes, we agree it wasn’t AGW. Even if there were such a thing, the nature of the MPB epidemic is not consistent with it.
    It did not move north. It started in the north and moved south, which belies the AGW notion. That also casts doubt on mild winters being significant.
    ————–
    “You ought to look at some historic photos and see what the ‘natural’ forests of the West looked like under ‘natural’ fire regimes. And by ‘natural’ I mean with Native people lighting most of the fires, for a variety of very pragmatic survival reasons.”
    ————————–
    “The West” is not a meaningful term in this context. We were discussing LP forests on the Interior Plateau of BC. Of course, there are cedar/ hemlock forests to the east and the west but my question was about why the pine doesn’t get supplanted.
    As for the fires being mostly started by humans in the old times, that’s absurd. Thunderstorms are frequent in the summer with thousands of lightning strikes.
    ————
    “That rust won’t ‘wipe out’ WWP because it only attacks the mature and old ones. Same reason why the mt pine beetle won’t ‘wipe out’ lps.”
    ————-
    You have that backwards. Young trees are the hardest hit. The fungal spores enter the needles and infect the stem easily on a seedling. Infection of big trees is often just on limbs.
    However, I agree that PB is not going to wipe out LP.
    We started this exchange with your claim that we do know how all this works and that it’s our fault. You haven’t convinced me.

  131. Robert says:

    @Wayne Delbeke says:
    March 1, 2011 at 5:49 pm

    Could be, i am not the expert on this, still we make it much easier for them without the aid of climate change, climate change has very little to do with the Pine Beetle, mismanagement due to green sentiments on the other hand…

  132. Oliver Ramsay says:

    chris b says:
    March 1, 2011 at 5:38 pm

    “……………………………..Yikes”

    The one solace is that they will tire of it in time and chase some other silliness.

  133. Doug Proctor says:

    In all of this discussion, of which I have played a part, I don’t see much attention to the crux of the warmist argument: the temperature increase attributable to GLOBAL warming.

    In order for the pine beetle to survive and pass its remorra-like disease to the trees, a certain minimum temperature must not occur for a certain number of days. From my personal experience in the Alberta slopes where the pine beetle is a problem, there has been a marked decrease in “serious” low temperatures of -35C to -45C since I arrived in 1979. However, the minimum temps have NOT gone up by a degree or so, which is what global warming alarmists might attribute to AGW, but by 10 or 15C for the prior 2 or 3 week periods we have. And it has not been progressive, but a step-function that occurred somewhere in the 80s, I think.

    So: what temp increase are the warmists referring to? It seems too much to be accounted for by even CAGW theory at present. A regional change of significance, yes, but not global, and certainly not of the magnitude that could in any form be attributable to global warming.

    Anyone? How much, in theory, could the winter temps of the eastern slopes of the Rockies be attributed to global warming REGARDLESS of its cause?

    The charge of AGW causing pine beetle infestation seems to fail by regionality and by magnitude of temperature change observed and magnitude of temperature change considered a possible AGW symptom.

  134. Al Gored says:

    Oliver Ramsay says:
    March 1, 2011 at 6:30 pm

    “It did not move north. It started in the north and moved south, which belies the AGW notion.”

    I am not sure how you arrive at this? If we are specifically talking about the recent BC epidemic – as per your “LP forests on the Interior Plateau of BC” – that ostensibly started in Tweedsmuir Prov Park… then spread both north(east) and south(east) from there. The AGW hype got hottest when it spread into Alberta north of there.

    Re historic photographs… ““The West” is not a meaningful term in this context.” OK. There are historic photographs of that region too. Lots of research done based on comparing historic and current photographs of the same places, and in almost all interior areas they show the obvious effects of fire.

    “but my question was about why the pine doesn’t get supplanted.”

    I think I missed that. In any case, it is the same story. Because of regular fires. In the typical simplified scenario, the long-living spruce, which can start growing in the shade of the lp, eventually shade out the lps… unless or until there’s a fire. Kills off the spruce and replants the pine. That’s the long term cycle. Now with managed forests, in theory, hopefully when they salvage logged the lp they left the spruce. Back in the bad old days I saw them clean out everything allegedly to stop the beetle!

    Guess I had my details off on the WWP. Writing off the top of my aging head.

    “As for the fires being mostly started by humans in the old times, that’s absurd.”

    Don’t think so… worth a look:

    http://westinstenv.org/histwl/2008/02/26/are-lightning-fires-unnatural-a-comparison-of-aboriginal-and-lightning-ignition-rates-in-the-united-states/

    http://westinstenv.org/sosf/2010/06/18/climate-isnt-responsible-for-everything/

    “We started this exchange with your claim that we do know how all this works and that it’s our fault. You haven’t convinced me.”

    That’s OK. I find this stuff very interesting so enjoy discussions. Everything is always more complicated than it seems. But here’s one last summary as I see it:

    Mt Pine Beetles need habitat, epidemics of them need huge amounts of habitat, and ‘unprecedented’ ones as large as the recent BC to AB epidemic need unprecendented amounts of habitat. And that is what they had. Vast expanses of mature even-aged lp stands, all with prime mpb habitat – suitably thick cambium layers – waiting to host that population explosion. No matter how warm it got, no epidemic of this size could have been possible without that vast habitat to exploit. And that was a product of modern fire suppression.

    How’s that?

  135. Oliver Ramsay says:

    Doug Proctor says:
    March 1, 2011 at 8:19 pm

    In all of this discussion, of which I have played a part, I don’t see much attention to the crux of the warmist argument: the temperature increase attributable to GLOBAL warming.

    In order for the pine beetle to survive and pass its remorra-like disease to the trees, a certain minimum temperature must not occur for a certain number of days.
    ———————-
    In an earlier comment, I mentioned that there is a putative 1.5 degree C rise in the wintertime average daily minimum.
    My contention is that the claim that outbreaks are only prevented by temperatures of -35C is not proven. The range of MPB is from north central BC down to Mexico. In much of that range it seldom or never reaches -35 and yet, there was not an epidemic.
    Insects are very mysterious creatures.

  136. Oliver Ramsay says:

    Al Gored says:
    March 1, 2011 at 9:33 pm

    ————–
    Sorry Al, I can’t let you just go off to bed!
    How would more fires produce fewer pine stands and more mixed woods?
    Pine is the ne plus ultra post-fire pioneer species. It takes a lot longer to get a spruce or fir forest established.

  137. Al Gored says:

    Oliver Ramsay says:
    March 1, 2011 at 11:05 pm

    “Sorry Al, I can’t let you just go off to bed!
    How would more fires produce fewer pine stands and more mixed woods?
    Pine is the ne plus ultra post-fire pioneer species. It takes a lot longer to get a spruce or fir forest established.”

    Sorry Oliver, I went to sleep.

    I think you misunderstood what I was trying to say but… here goes. Again, going back to historic photos showing the effects of the ‘natural’ fire regime, what you see is less trees in general and more diversity… in the specific case of lps, more different aged stands, each reflecting different fire events. And in many areas where there are lp stands now, no trees at all. In the Chilcotin and further south there were more grasslands, which were fire maintained (same with the prairies).

    Now, one effect of that is that with more patchy cover, there was less continuous forest to burn, so more patchy fires… which also contributes to this diversity. Even now most fires miss patches, and with less continuous forests (and less fuel buildup in general due to regular fires), more patches get missed.

    So to INTERIOR Douglas Fir, like in the Chilcotin. They are actually a fire adapted species too. Once they reach a certain age their bark is fire resistant and their lower trunks are typically bare so they can easily withstand regular light fires. Indeed they need that to prevent too much fuel buildup or the growth of too much understory which now does make fires too intense for old trees to survive (particularly when young trees create fire ladders to to the upper green parts of those trees).

    Spruce trees are and were typically found in moister areas where fire was less prevalent. And historic photos show that in many areas where they are now, they were scattered or absent under natural fire regimes.

    So, if you add all this together – regular fires with most frequency in the driest most fire prone areas (where you find lp and interior Doug Fir and, further south Ponderosa pine which is fire adapted like Int D Fir) plus fewer fires and thus more spruce in moister areas, and then add the randomness of how each fire moves, the whole thing adds up to a much more diverse and mixed landscape than we have now.

    Then you add aspen, which is virtually fire-proof when it is green. That species provides some of the best evidence for Native burning because historic fires in those stands were typically in the spring, the prime time for most of their burning activities and the time when lightning strikes are almost nonexistent.

    So, there’s a long rambling answer to what I think your question was. Make any sense to you?

    P.S. Did you check out those links?

    Thus, in places like the Fraser Canyon I’ll address your points

  138. Al Gored says:

    Oops. Sorry Oliver that last line was accidentally left hanging… ignore.

  139. henrythethird says:

    Once again, the alarmists have set a long-term projection.

    In 69 years, we’ll be able to see if their projection comes true. Wanna bet that the original authors won’t be alive by then?

    Makes it hard for us to say “see, I told you so…”

  140. Oliver Ramsay says:

    @ Al Gored,

    Sorry, busy then sidetracked on the greenhouse thread.
    I don’t disagree with most of your last comment; just enough that I don’t think we can blame Smokey. Martin Mars tankers haven’t been around for a whole forest cycle, for one thing. If you’ve ever built hand-guard you’ll know how ineffective it is.
    I haven’t yet read your links, but will do so tomorrow. I do remember reading fairly recently that the Indians’ use of fire is thought to have been overstated.

  141. Steve Keohane says:

    Wayne Delbeke says: March 1, 2011 at 4:51 pm

    [...] reference to jae.

    Is this just a Colorado pipe-dream, or do you have some data to support your “hypothesis??” Old-growth fir? In Colorado? What kind of “fir,”

    On the western slope we have lots of Blue and Engleman Spruce. I think those qualify as old-growth fir, but they tend to be along wetter areas from the mid-state and south. As one heads north to near Steamboat though, I recall large stands of big firs.

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