Shock news: trees grow better in a warmer climate with more carbon dioxide

The geniuses at Columbia University’s Lamont -Doherty Earth Observatory have discovered Liebigs Law of the Minimum. The tree researcher exclaims: “I was expecting to see trees stressed from the warmer temperatures,”…“What we found was a surprise.”

Trees on Tundra’s Border Are Growing Faster in a Hotter Climate

Measuring Techniques Improve—But the Implications Are Not Certain

Trees in Alaska’s far north are growing faster than they were a hundred years ago says a study led by Lamont-Doherty scientist Laia Andreu-Hayles.

Image: Trees in Alaska’s far north are growing faster than they were a hundred years ago says a study led by Lamont-Doherty scientist Laia Andreu-Hayles. Credit: Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.

Evergreen trees at the edge of Alaska’s tundra are growing faster, suggesting that at least some forests may be adapting to a rapidly warming climate, says a new study.

While forests elsewhere are thinning from wildfires, insect damage and droughts partially attributed to global warming, some white spruce trees in the far north of Alaska have grown more vigorously in the last hundred years, especially since 1950, the study has found. The health of forests globally is gaining attention, because trees are thought to absorb a third of all industrial carbon emissions, transferring carbon dioxide into soil and wood. The study, in the journal Environmental Research Letters, spans 1,000 years and bolsters the idea that far northern ecosystems may play a future role in the balance of planet-warming carbon dioxide that remains in the air. It also strengthens support for an alternative technique for teasing climate data from trees in the far north, sidestepping recent methodological objections from climate skeptics.

“I was expecting to see trees stressed from the warmer temperatures,” said study lead author Laia Andreu-Hayles, a tree ring scientist at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. “What we found was a surprise.”

Members of the Lamont Tree-Ring Lab have traveled repeatedly to Alaska, including the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge this past summer. In an area where the northern treeline gives way to open tundra, the scientists removed cores from living white spruces, as well as long-dead partially fossilized trees preserved under the cold conditions. In warm years, trees tend to produce wider, denser rings and in cool years, the rings are typically narrower and less dense. Using this basic idea and samples from a 2002 trip to the refuge, Andreu-Hayles and her colleagues assembled a climate timeline for Alaska’s Firth River region going back to the year 1067. They discovered that both tree-ring width and density shot up starting a hundred years ago, and rose even more after 1950. Their findings match a separate team’s study earlier this year that used satellite imagery and tree rings to also show that trees in this region are growing faster, but that survey extended only to 1982.

The added growth is happening as the arctic faces rapid warming. While global temperatures since the 1950s rose 1.6 degrees F, parts of the northern latitudes warmed 4 to 5 degrees F. “For the moment, warmer temperatures are helping the trees along the tundra,” said study coauthor Kevin Anchukaitis, a tree-ring scientist at Lamont. “It’s a fairly wet, fairly cool, site overall, so those longer growing seasons allow the trees to grow more.”

Researchers have traveled to the Alaskan treeline repeatedly. Lamont tree-ring scientist Kevin Anchukaitis (left) and Fairbanks arctic ecologist Angela Allen sample a dead spruce.

Researchers have traveled to the Alaskan treeline repeatedly. Lamont tree-ring scientist Kevin Anchukaitis (left) and Fairbanks arctic ecologist Angela Allen sample a dead spruce. Credit: Lamont-Doherty


The outlook may be less favorable for the vast interior forests that ring the Arctic Circle. Satellite images have revealed swaths of brown, dying vegetation and a growing number of catastrophic wildfires in the last decade across parts of interior Alaska, Canada and Russia. Evidence suggests forests elsewhere are struggling, too. In the American West, bark beetles benefitting from milder winters have devastated millions of acres of trees weakened by lack of water. A 2009 study in the journal Science found that mortality rates in once healthy old-growth conifer forests have doubled in the past few decades. Heat and water stress are also affecting some tropical forests already threatened by clear-cutting for farming and development.

Another paper in Science recently estimated that the world’s 10 billion acres of forest are now absorbing about a third of carbon emissions, helping to limit carbon dioxide levels and keep the planet cooler than it would be otherwise.

There are already signs that the treeline is pushing north, and if this continues, northern ecosystems will change. Warming temperatures have benefitted not only white spruce, the dominant treeline species in northwestern North America, but also woody deciduous shrubs on the tundra, which have begun shading out other plants as they expand their range. As habitats change, scientists are asking whether insects, migratory songbirds, caribou and other animals that have evolved to exploit the tundra environment will adapt. “Some of these changes will be ecologically beneficial, but others may not,” said Natalie Boelman, an ecologist at Lamont-Doherty who is studying the effects of climate change in the Alaskan tundra.

In another finding, the study strengthens scientists’ ability to use tree rings to measure past climate. Since about 1950, tree ring widths in some northern locations have stopped varying in tandem with temperature, even though modern instruments confirm that temperatures are on a steady rise. As scientists looked for ways to get around the problem, critics of modern climate science dismissed the tree ring data as unreliable and accused scientists of cooking up tricks to support the theory of global warming. The accusations came to a head when stolen mails discussing the discrepancy between tree-ring records and actual temperatures came to light during the so-called “Climategate” episode of 2009-10.

The fact that temperatures were rising was never really in dispute among scientists, who had thermometers as well as tree rings to confirm the trend. But still scientists struggled with how to correct for the so-called “divergence problem.’’ The present study adds support for another proxy for tree growth: ring density. Trees tend to produce cells with thicker walls at the end of the growing season, forming a dark band of dense wood. While tree-ring width in some places stops correlating with temperature after 1950, possibly due to moisture stress or changes in seasonality due to warming, tree ring density at the site studied continues to track temperature.

“This is methodologically a big leap forward that will allow scientists to go back to sites sampled in the past and fill in the gaps,” said Glenn Juday, a forest ecologist at University of Alaska, Fairbanks, who was not involved in the study. The researchers plan to return to Alaska and other northern forest locations to improve geographical coverage and get more recent records from some sites. They are also investigating the use of stable isotopes to extract climate information from tree rings.

Other authors of the study include Rosanne D’Arrigo, Lamont-Doherty; Pieter Beck and Scott Goetz, Woods Hole Research Center and David Frank, Swiss Federal Research Institute. The study received funding from the Swiss and US national science foundations.

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125 thoughts on “Shock news: trees grow better in a warmer climate with more carbon dioxide

  1. Apparently the equatorial regions of the planet are unknown to these folks. They should get out more. Maybe take a trip to Hawaii.

  2. Really, these people are retarded, more food CO2 and more energy(solar ) and they are suprised then trees grown faster ??

  3. The tree researcher exclaims: “I was expecting to see trees stressed from the warmer temperatures,”…“What we found was a surprise.”

    Holy cow, has that researcher *never* planted a garden? Has she never heard of paleontologists describe the various times of the dinosaurs and how plants did in warmer temperatures back then?

    Seriously, what-the-****… How can you call yourself a researcher and be surprised by this? the only explanation I can see is that you would have to have swallowed all the alarmism about AGW hook-line-and-sinker.

  4. So that tree moaning moaning hippy video needs to be subtitled, as a translation from the Post Darwinian Giaian dialect.

    Offer a translation that the Greenies are secretly crying out for more heat and co2/carbon, and the stupid scientists are not hearing her cry in the wilderness.

    Sort of like the ex-german leader Bunker video keeps getting subtitled.

  5. How can anyone publish this drivel with a straight face? Honestly. How can the media not ridicule such utter nonsense?

  6. That’s chemical kinetics — the second point indicated by Arrhenius on CO2!

    (carbon fix rate) = (rate constant) * (CO2 concentration)

    rate constant = (pre-exponential factor) * exp[-(activation energy)/(gas constant * temperature)]

    That’s how CO2 and temperature work!

  7. One should also consider logging practices. These are my opinions but they are based on the reports of loggers and forest managers who represent a long history of feet on the ground logging practices. Logging opens up tree stands allowing for better response to favorable and even unfavorable conditions. Natural fires do the same thing. However, after the logging boom ended, increased fire suppression and decreased logging resulted in dense stands, slowing growth as competition for nutrients and sunlight increased. Any kind of use of tree ring data; IE width, cell density, etc, will be fraught with variables (some natural, some anthropogenic) other than temperature.

  8. “As scientists looked for ways to get around the problem …”

    Surely “As scientists sought to understand the discrepancy by undertaking further research …” ?

    “… stolen mails …”

    Surely “mails released into the public domain” ?

    This puff hardly inspires confidence in the integrity of the research.

  9. duncan binks says:

    November 11, 2011 at 9:01 am

    I’m surprised they were surprised! No, really, I was!

    I’m surprised your suprised they were surprised!

  10. I am presently looking for a $18,000,000 government grant to enable me to study the effects of placing vegetables into a hothouse and feeding them fertiliser and an enhanced CO2 atmosphere. With 6-7 years of experimentation and intensive study in the Mauritius or Lord Howe Island I feel I may be able to confirm the findings of commercial growers.

  11. The tree researcher exclaims: “I was expecting to see trees stressed from the warmer temperatures,”…“What we found was a surprise.”

    A little bit of common sense would go a long way. But, apparently, it ain’t so common.

    I met up with an old friend last year, who did microbiology. He said that he had spent months on end doing nothing but cutting up samples for microscope slides. Now they don’t do any of that. No practical experience! Maybe they imagine the computer screen is sufficient understanding. And the bone-idle academics have spent the intervening years discussing what the students don’t need to learn.

  12. Will these self styled journalist “experts” ever stop this baseless propaganda. The cycle of growth, build up of underbrush, then fire which creates rejuvenation of the forests is well known and widely acknowledged. Yellowstone Park was a good example of well meaning forest rangers pouncing on every little fire breakout until the underbrush got so thick the big one started and they were powerless to control it several years ago. Maybe California will learn this lesson one day but it is very hard to teach the egomaniac californians anything that is why the potentially richest state in the union is bankrupt. Just north in Canada they have a limited fire policy which allows fires to happen naturally, result, sure we have fires but they are limited and they rejuvenate the forests. As usual so much propaganda and misinformation from our illustrious news media.

  13. “Since about 1950, tree ring widths in some northern locations have stopped varying in tandem with temperature, even though modern instruments confirm that temperatures are on a steady rise. As scientists looked for ways to get around the problem, critics of modern climate science dismissed the tree ring data as unreliable and accused scientists of cooking up tricks to support the theory of global warming.”

    What “modern instruments” are they talking about? The ones at the local roof tops or tarmacs? I just logged 60 acres, the stumps all show the last 10-12 years with less growth. than previous 20 years or so. I assumed it was colder or some other stress, negating the increase in CO2.

    “I was expecting to see trees stressed from the warmer temperatures,”…“What we found was a surprise.”

    You have to be kidding. How fast do trees grow in the tropics as apposed to mountain timberlines?

  14. “I was expecting to see trees stressed from the warmer temperatures,” said study lead author

    At least she admits that she had preconceived religious beliefs.

    Perhaps this will raise her awareness to the propaganda she has been living and breathing in our schools and Universities.

    It is the same with Polar Bears. Anyone actually willing to go to Churchill, Manitoba and see for themselves will discover that the truth is diametrically opposite to what the CAGW WWF propagandists have been telling everyone. There is at least a FIVE-FOLD increase in Polar Bear populations since the late 70′s and the start of the entire CAGW scare….

  15. David Jay
    November 11, 2011 at 9:34 am
    And the Woods Hole “Research Center” is part of the team – THAT’S reassuring!
    ###

    Beat me to it.

  16. I’m sure this does come as a surprise to climate boffins. I pretty much consider them to be idiot savants at this point. I’d rather think they are honest imbeciles than evil geniuses for as long as humanly possible.

  17. Most of these comments are simply disrespectful and unworthy of further criticism. It is clear from this research that forests are in the process of dramatic change and it is a stretch to imagine a positive outcome after these changes. Given the host of negative synergies (eg wildfire), we should be very concerned about the prospects for a diminished boreal forest and it’s immense capacity to absorb CO2. Incidentally, these changes can be observed and I encourage your correspondents to make a trip to northern Canada or Alaska.

  18. Now remind me why we grow plants in greenhouses. Preferrably with added CO2.

    How can these people lack so much commonsense.

  19. “The fact that temperatures were rising was never really in dispute among scientists, who had thermometers as well as tree rings to confirm the trend. But still scientists struggled with how to correct for the so-called “divergence problem.’’ The present study adds support for another proxy for tree growth: ring density. Trees tend to produce cells with thicker walls at the end of the growing season, forming a dark band of dense wood. While tree-ring width in some places stops correlating with temperature after 1950, possibly due to moisture stress or changes in seasonality due to warming, tree ring density at the site studied continues to track temperature.”

    Yay! No more need to hide the decline :-)

  20. It makes one wonder – What kind of education did these “researchers” receive? Perhaps someone should check their credentials. If legit, those institutions, should be closed. GK

  21. I agree with Pamela Gray , as usual . Forests in southern Idaho have similar conditions to those in eastern Oregon . Stands of trees become denser , the trees weaken from competition and the bark beetles move in . I lived in Idaho for over twenty years , and have spent most of the last thirty winters there so I don’t buy the idea that milder winters lead to explosions in bark beetle populations . The beetles are always there , and only do serious damage to the weakest trees .

  22. Hugh Pepper …

    anyone who claims to be a “researcher” but is then “suprised” that warmer climates help pine tress grow faster is not a scientist nor a researcher but an ignorant robot simply spouting AGW nonsense. They deserve absolutely no respect because they have not earned it. As far as the rest of your comment, wildfires are not negative “synergies”, whatever that means. They a healthy positive events …

  23. It seems to be a recurring theme that the pro-AGW researchers really do not know anything about what they are talking about. Pamela Gray and others mention above that the government’s severe restrictions on logging may have something to do with the problems, large wildfires and insect infestation, cited by the researchers. And the researchers note tree ring widths and densities varied at different sites, though temperatures didn’t. That alone should make them look for other causes. Where are these people being educated?

  24. Did these people really think that these trees grew way up north because they like the cold? They only grow there because they are the only trees strong enough to grow up there. Why they don’t grow down at normal latitudes? Not sure, but may be related to competition.

  25. The ‘wildwood’ was undergoing Native American silviculture through periodic burns for thousands of years. The Europeans put an end to that, then the Greens started breaking contract with ranchers who previously had been given grazing rights in the national forests (which were for resource management, not wildlife preservation), and the brush grew up allowing for catastrophic wildfires. Pests of course, come in waves, and always have. Monocultures contribute to this, as do other factors, but to attribute this to the proven non-existant AGW without taking these other factors into consideration is unscientific, and either ignorant or fraudulent.

  26. “Well, I’m not surprised you were surprised she was surprised they were surprised!”

    I’m surprised to hear you say that.

    In other news, researchers have discoverd that bears actually do crap in the woods….

  27. Hugh Pepper says:
    November 11, 2011 at 9:52 am
    Most of these comments are simply disrespectful and unworthy of further criticism. It is clear from this research that forests are in the process of dramatic change and it is a stretch to imagine a positive outcome after these changes. Given the host of negative synergies (eg wildfire), we should be very concerned about the prospects for a diminished boreal forest and it’s immense capacity to absorb CO2. Incidentally, these changes can be observed and I encourage your correspondents to make a trip to northern Canada or Alaska.

    But won’t more CO2 dampen forest fires? My old Sim Earth model worked that way!

  28. The quote “In the American West, bark beetles benefitting from milder winters have devastated millions of acres of trees weakened by lack of water. A 2009 study in the journal Science found that mortality rates in once healthy old-growth conifer forests have doubled in the past few decades. ” appears above.
    As one who lives in one of those forests, The fire and bark beetle problem is a result of over growth and over population. We can’t cut trees and fires are suppressed until the fuel load reaches the point that the fires can not be controlled. Forest thinning is only permitted in alpine urban areas and then it it is limited thinning.
    After the bark beetle finished in our area, we the trees were still had 3-5 times as many trees as the forest can safely support. I have trees 8-12 inches in diameter as close as 10 feet apart. On my property the canopy is so thick that no sunlight reaches the forest floor.
    Only logging (only trees killed by bark beetles can be cut) or fire (I and hundreds of others would loose our homes) can clear the forest and make it healthy.
    The Western forests are not healthy, but it is not warming doing it. It is our forest policy that is killing the trees.

  29. I’ve never seen any one so happy to measure the circumference of a tree as the scientist in the first picture.

  30. Being the self appointed GOD on all tree related topics, I can’t believe this data until Michael Mann verifies the study’s validity.
    \sarc

    From a climax vegetation viewpoint, even if the white spruce were stressed because of a “warmer” climate, tree species from lower latitudes would take over. DOH

  31. Forgetting all the imaturity, lack of open minded scientific thought processes and obvious green indoctrination of the authors the possible finding of density as a proxy for temperature is interesting so lets not throw the paper in the green waste just yet.

  32. Wasn’t one critique of Michael Mann’s bristle cone pine data that those trees live at the edge of the Alpine environment where temps are subfreezing most of the time, stunting growth? When things warmed, growth increased. Same for Briffa’s Yamal tree ring data set.

    Call me crazy, but I’ve seen trees in Alaska where snow and ice surrounded the trees and they stopped growing. When the ice retreated, the trees grew strong. Wait. Isn’t that what happens between winter and summer — growth slows or stops in winter cold and accelerates in summer warmth. So it would go that in warmer climes with sufficient water, trees grow well. They just now discovered that?

  33. Hugh Pepper says:
    November 11, 2011 at 9:52 am

    Most of these comments are simply disrespectful and unworthy of further criticism. It is clear from this research that forests are in the process of dramatic change and it is a stretch to imagine a positive outcome after these changes. Given the host of negative synergies (eg wildfire), we should be very concerned about the prospects for a diminished boreal forest and it’s immense capacity to absorb CO2. Incidentally, these changes can be observed and I encourage your correspondents to make a trip to northern Canada or Alaska.
    ===================================================
    Hugh, you’ve been a regular here long enough to know that forests are always in constant dramatic changes. You are also certainly knowledgeable enough to have already realized that while wildfires do have negative impacts on certain things, they are a necessary process for the health of all forests.

    As far as the disrespectful nature of some of the comments, do you blame them? Some researcher finds out something that many skeptics have been saying for years, and the researcher is surprised? Its one thing to find something that hadn’t been thought of before, but the idea that CO2+warmth helps plant growth……….. well, a derisive response is probably as polite as can be expected.

  34. Any professional greenhouse outfit could tell you that plants like a CO2 level that’s about 12-15% higher than naturally occuring levels are today. That’s why they buy expensive CO2 generators for their operations. One could postulate that it says something about evolution and history as well, but what, I’m not sure yet…

  35. Warmer temperatures reduced the stress on the trees? Wow. Did a government grant pay for this? — John M Reynolds

  36. “Most of these comments are simply disrespectful and unworthy of further criticism. It is clear from this research that forests are in the process of dramatic change and it is a stretch to imagine a positive outcome after these changes. Given the host of negative synergies (eg wildfire), we should be very concerned about the prospects for a diminished boreal forest and it’s immense capacity to absorb CO2. Incidentally, these changes can be observed and I encourage your correspondents to make a trip to northern Canada or Alaska.”

    First, the only disrespect is our having to tolerate the ineptness spewing from higher ed. Second, don’t be critical of critical thought. Third, there is nothing clear about climate. Fourth, every one here is clear on how CO2 benefits plants. Fifth, there is no host of negative synergies. Sixth, as someone graciously pointed out, biomass is on the rise. Finally, we do not need any trips to Canada or Alaska to opine on or evaluate bunk research.

    Oh yes, get a life with a sense of reality and sense of humor. Please. :)

  37. Hugh Pepper says:
    November 11, 2011 at 9:52 am

    Most of these comments are simply disrespectful and unworthy of further criticism.

    The first duty of a researcher is to do some research, right? And the very best place they could come would be here at WUWT. Right? I mean, they can’t call themselves “researchers” if they haven’t thoroughly studied and evaluated WUWT.

    “…the world’s most viewed climate website”
    - Fred Pearce The Climate Files: The Battle for the Truth about Global Warming

    So would you call these people “researchers” in light of the above?

    As of this moment, the Blog Stat here at WUWT is ■94,155,740 views. Apparently, that doesn’t include any of these people or they wouldn’t be “surprised”. And that’s why I call them (and you’re really gonna hate this description ’cause it’s the worst thing I can call them): climscires (not full climate, hence the “clim“; not full scientists, hence the “sci“; and not full researchers, hence the “res“).

    Disrespectful? As much as I can occupy it.

  38. The tree researcher exclaims: “I was expecting to see trees stressed from the warmer temperatures,”…“What we found was a surprise.”

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

    If that were true, MIchael Mann would use all his tree rings upside down – except Tiljander.

  39. “trees grow better in a warmer climate with more carbon dioxide”

    yes,yes,yes.

    But was it worse than we thought? Unprecedented? unequivocal?

  40. Nothing is clear from the article on this research except the silliness of whoever wrote the article:
    1. The so called tree ring experts would never have questioned the worthlessness of their ‘proxy’ if Skeptics hadn’t debunked their institutional theory,
    2. Lucky thing for “stolen emails”,
    3. Is that the two-step “side step”?,
    4. What is this improved methodology exactly; find something, anything, that does track with the institutional theory?,
    5. “The tree rings indicate the world is warming, the ‘divergence problem’ proves it”,
    6. So warmer temperatures cause more rapid growth, except when it doesn’t, then it causes more dense growth. Now there’s a ‘proxy’ you can depend on.
    7. Luckily beginning from about the time satellite data were able to start verifying whether or not the basis for accepting tree rings as a temperature ‘proxy’ is valid, the 1950 manual calibration variable for the ‘proxy’ can be applied. (Use as needed to fill in the declines.)

    Suggested hypothesis: Rapid tree growth, especially in the arctic, causes thermometers to read higher, except when trees are growing slower then denser growth will do it. Thermometers always read higher.

    I don’t disagree the Alaskan arctic is warmer now than in the past. Anecdotaly, for one thing it has been harder to get thermal piling to freeze back in permafrost at least on the west coast, arctic circle lat plus or minus. Though probably as the article indicates, this has been going on for more than 100 years.

  41. Nomen Nescio says:
    November 11, 2011 at 10:37 am
    I’ve never seen any one so happy to measure the circumference of a tree as the scientist in the first picture.

    Her previous experience with measuring trees was entirely virtual.

  42. The tree researcher exclaims: “I was expecting to see trees stressed from the warmer temperatures,”…“What we found was a surprise.”

    I have only one thing to say.

  43. They could’ve saved some money by taking a train from Anchorage to Fairbanks and watching as the taiga shrinks the farther they move north.

  44. JeffC says : “anyone who claims to be a “researcher” but is then “suprised” that warmer climates help pine tress grow faster is not a scientist nor a researcher but an ignorant robot simply spouting AGW nonsense

    JeffC, your blame is in the wrong place.

    Jeremy has identified the real problem : “Perhaps this will raise [the researcher's] awareness to the propaganda she has been living and breathing in our schools and Universities.

    I think that everyone here should give heartfelt congratulations to the researchers for (a) doing real research, (b) not distorting their findings to match preconceived ideas, and hopefully (c) starting to wake up to the fact that not everything they were taught at school and university was true.

    Rather than being dismayed by this report, I think that we should be very encouraged by it.

  45. What does this mean “10 billion acres of forest are now absorbing about a third of carbon emissions, helping to limit carbon dioxide levels and keep the planet cooler than it would be otherwise.”?
    I thought one of our problems was deforestation? Does that mean if we didn’t cut down the forests we would be even cooler and the trees would be starving for CO2?
    And how do they figure the forests are absorbing a third of the CO2 produced? Different flora use CO2 at different rates. It must have been one heck of a study to come up with that number particularly since they don’t even know where all the CO2 comes from!
    What are the warmistas gonna’ say when we start growing wheat and corn above the Arctic Circle (I hope!)?
    Oh, I forgot, they won’t like it one bit. More folks will be fed! It’s not the climate they have a problem with. We all know it’s the population! Worthless slugs that we are.

  46. Al Gore’s Holy Hologram says:
    November 11, 2011 at 9:48 am
    The only thing that grows better in colder climates is fur, fat deposits and bones.

    And rocks. Every year the frost pushes up a new crop.

  47. I said in an earlier comment, “they don’t even know where all the CO2 comes from!”
    I think I’ll stand by that after finding out greenhouse operators pump CO2 into their buildings and I personally open 6 or so cans of Coke a day.
    I wonder if they count all that?
    I’m doing it for the trees (and the children, of course!).

  48. Fort Yukon and Fairbanks – south of Firth River, show temps ranging from -60 – +80F yet an estimated general increase of 5F should cause these trees problems? Surely these trees are there because they can cope with the low temps? If temps went beyond 50C (what’s that in F – 130 or so?) I could understand thermal stress.

  49. Hugh Pepper says:
    November 11, 2011 at 9:52 am

    Most of these comments are simply disrespectful and unworthy of further criticism. It is clear from this research that forests are in the process of dramatic change and it is a stretch to imagine a positive outcome after these changes. Given the host of negative synergies (eg wildfire), we should be very concerned about the prospects for a diminished boreal forest and it’s immense capacity to absorb CO2. Incidentally, these changes can be observed and I encourage your correspondents to make a trip to northern Canada or Alaska.
    ================================================
    Hugh, these scientists are idiots….
    Not one mention of C3′s or C4′s
    In order to have fires, you have to have something to burn
    Nothing is getting diminished, it’s moving
    and the only reason they were surprised, is because other idiots have taught them that white spruce are on the decline….all they discovered is that they were lied to

    http://www.agrowinginterest.com/presentations/Piacentini_Richard.pdf

  50. My friend wants to know where she can get a unicorn hat like the one that researcher is wearing in the second picture.

    Nevermind.

  51. I seem to remember from the early days of CA and prior to this website, several people mentioned that tree line used to be hundreds of miles further north in the Canadian tundra, i.e., it used to be quite a bit warmer. Can anyone verify my memory?

  52. highflight56433 says:
    November 11, 2011 at 11:08 am
    Given the host of negative synergies (eg wildfire),

    Could it be you don’t understand the role of wildfires and how different species are fire adapted? Without fire on the west coast we end up with forests of hemlocks. With fire we end up with forests of doug-fir.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pseudotsuga_menziesii

    Coast Douglas-fir is one of the world’s best timber producers and yields more timber than any other tree in North America. Douglas-firs are seral trees in temperate rainforest, and possess thicker bark and a somewhat faster growth rate than most other climax trees of the area, such as the Western Hemlock and Western Redcedar. This quality often gives Douglas-firs a competitive advantage when the forest experiences a major disturbance such as fire. Periodically, portions of a Pacific Northwest lowland forest may be burned by wildfire, may be logged, or may be blown down by a wind-storm. These types of disturbances allow Douglas-fir to regenerate in openings, and low-intensity fires often leave Douglas-fir trees standing on drier sites, while less drought- and fire-tolerant species are unable to get established. The boughs of the growing Western Hemlock limit the sunlight for smaller trees and severely limit the chances of shade-intolerant trees, such as the Douglas-fir. Over the course of centuries, Western Hemlock typically come to dominate the canopy of an old-growth lowland rainforest.

  53. Following further examination, I would like to add an additional point.
    It is directed at Hugh Pepper and his ilk.

    This structure of the hypothesis underlying this paper is instructive of the erroneous interpretations found in almost all AGW papers, even though this paper appears to be favorable to the skeptic cause.
    Let’s assume that their data showing increased growth is valid. Favorable growth range is predicated on the evolutionary principle that these trees have adapted to a specific climate regime. The authors have assumed that the temperature to which the trees have adapted has warmed. As skeptics, we need prove of that rather invalid assumption other than the current temperature analysis available. Understanding of the physiological processes involved in adaptive strategies (some potential candidates: seed germination temperature, cold temperature tolerance, enzymatic temperature adjustment, cuticular changes, etc.) would suggest that the extent of these trees range has been limited at an unspecified, but fairly hardfast northern limit, and logic would assert that under a warming environment (they state significantly for 50 years), that extent would have migrated north.
    Therefore, identify the age of the trees from the northernmost extent southward, and determine if a statistically significant profile exists that validates your assumption.
    Otherwise, omit any reference to temperature as a causitive mechanism. It just makes you look stupid to a physiologist.

  54. In my visit to the Black Hills in 2010, I was pleasantly surprised to see healthy forests as opposed to the beetle-ravaged forests that I had seen on an earlier visit. The reason — a pleasant surprise! The forest service is thinning the forest which limits the damage of the pine beetles. Kudos to the forest service!

  55. The sad thing is that the paleo-treeline in the Canadian arctic during the Holocene Climate Optimum is known to be far north of where it is today – apparently because it was warmer. Don’t these people read anything?

    Also here in western Canada there is abundant evidence of forests growing high in the mountains where today there are no trees, because it is too cold. Of course the only news regarding these newly uncovered forests are scary headlines about global warming causing glaciers to melt and exposing these long buried trees.

    The real question to me, is why did it suddenly cool fast enough for advancing ice to cover entire forests, and this question is never asked.

  56. In the picture at the top of this post the young lady is measuring the diameter of the tree at about 18 inches? Standard tree measurements are made at “breast height”.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diameter_at_breast_height

    While the article says “In many cases the height makes little difference to the measured diameter.” they mean little difference between 1.4 and 1.5 meters. Below about a meter the height of measuring can make a very large difference.

    Did they control for moisture? Moisture is almost always the main limiting factor in tree growth (except for trees that are most inundated or in very wet soil). I have not read the article.

  57. Actually I have hiked across a good portion of Northern Alaska. The trees are indeed stunted, often dead, subject to forest fires. They have been this way for tens of thousands of years. It is because of cold. Winter kill off , tundra and lack of sun.It was like this in the 80′s. It is like this today. The same trees in the peninsula are healthy, beautiful and very large.

  58. Can someone help me out here-
    “because trees are thought to absorb a third of all industrial carbon emissions, transferring carbon dioxide into soil and wood”
    .I thought the sourcing of C02 was not settled.

  59. Paul Linsay says:
    November 11, 2011 at 12:00 pm

    I seem to remember from the early days of CA and prior to this website, several people mentioned that tree line used to be hundreds of miles further north in the Canadian tundra, i.e., it used to be quite a bit warmer. Can anyone verify my memory?
    ================================================
    Paul, here you go……plus finding dead preserved trees where no trees grow today is a dead giveaway….

    Historical Aspects of the Northern Canadian Treeline

    http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=9&ved=0CGYQFjAI&url=http%3A%2F%2Farctic.synergiesprairies.ca%2Farctic%2Findex.php%2Farctic%2Farticle%2Fdownload%2F2786%2F2763&ei=54S9Tr-8E4-ftwfWx9zjBg&usg=AFQjCNE4haQZVavgrWLHoCcuEcjv5jX4vw&sig2=SWiUllYIiCtzR1U_8v9ODA

    If that doesn’t work, google the title

  60. Shock news: trees grow better in a warmer climate with more carbon dioxide

    Whoa!

    Those “tree researchers” are really top-notch!

    Did they give those trees a big HUG for all of us?

    I’ve noticed that when I dig up a plant or small tree, bring it in the garage, and just let it sit there, after a while it just doesn’t look so good and all the leaves fall off. Wonder if these “tree researchers” might like to investigate this?

    Overheard at a wedding between two “tree researchers” :

    “With this tree ring, thee I wed.”

    :)

  61. Hugh Pepper says:
    November 11, 2011 at 9:52 am

    I sense a true believer. Is it a member of the CAGW church visiting?

  62. ““I was expecting to see trees stressed from the warmer temperatures,”…“What we found was a surprise.”

    That explains everything you need to know about over educated PhD types and ordinary folks with a normal amount of common sense.

  63. Hugh Pepper says:
    November 11, 2011 at 9:52 am
    Most of these comments are simply disrespectful and unworthy of further criticism. It is clear from this research that forests are in the process of dramatic change and it is a stretch to imagine a positive outcome after these changes. Given the host of negative synergies (eg wildfire), we should be very concerned about the prospects for a diminished boreal forest and it’s immense capacity to absorb CO2. Incidentally, these changes can be observed and I encourage your correspondents to make a trip to northern Canada or Alaska.

    You evidently missed the works of several other groups of dolts, who have claimed to have proven that due to CAGW all the permafrost in Northern Canada and Siberia is bound for extinction and the boreal forests will be nipping at the shore of the Arctic ocean in no time at all.

  64. More silliness but at least it is a counterweight to the previously 100% negative effects of CO2 and warming. The spate of articles on the skeptical side of the question seem to have blossomed forth with the climategate scandals opening the door to “contrary” papers. I think journals are padding themselves with such new stuff to push the silliness of the past few decades into the background.

  65. From the article: “The study, in the journal Environmental Research Letters, spans 1,000 years [...]“

    Isn’t that milking the grant-cow for an unusually long time? Most grants are only good for a year or two and maybe three years if things go well.

  66. These people actually believe what they are saying. Obviously proof that alien races exist. They could not come from this world and talk such dribble.

    Maybe they should try an experiment. – Nice big glass house. Seal all leaks. Plant a big range of plants and grow to a reasonable size, measure etc. Then remove all of the polluting CO2 and check the response of the plants. They will probably get another surprise. Totally unexpected I would think.

  67. Larry Geiger says:
    November 11, 2011 at 12:26 pm
    In the picture at the top of this post the young lady is measuring the diameter of the tree at about 18 inches? Standard tree measurements are made at “breast height”.

    Imho she’s measuring at breast height. She didnt get the memo though that she has to stand up.

  68. Larry Geiger says:
    November 11, 2011 at 12:26 pm
    In the picture at the top of this post the young lady is measuring the diameter of the tree at about 18 inches? Standard tree measurements are made at “breast height”.
    =======
    Looking at the slope of the land behind the young lady, she may very well be measuring at “breast height” if she was standing next to the tree.
    In any case, it is good to see the kids getting some field experience.

  69. “I was expecting to see trees stressed from the warmer temperatures,” said study lead author Laia Andreu-Hayles, a tree ring scientist at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. “What we found was a surprise.”

    Why? The two big stresses for plants are frost and lack of water. For those that are frost resistant then it’s lack of water. Temperature is the least important.

  70. PaulC says:
    November 11, 2011 at 2:05 pm

    These people actually believe what they are saying. Obviously proof that alien races exist. They could not come from this world and talk such dribble.

    Maybe they should try an experiment. – Nice big glass house. Seal all leaks. Plant a big range of plants and grow to a reasonable size, measure etc. Then remove all of the polluting CO2 and check the response of the plants. They will probably get another surprise. Totally unexpected I would think.
    ===================================================

    Biosphere 2

  71. I remember reading how German farmers were suing the railways for electrification because, they said, that crop production had fallen off in areas adjacent to the tracks. The cause was put down to the loss of soot from the steam engines.
    Similarly one can see, say, motorways along which the wild flowers and plants thrive, presumably a result of the heat island effect coupled with increased CO2, and heaven knows what else!

  72. The implication that these researchers have ‘discovered’ tree ring density (as opposed to width) is bizarre. Keith Briffa, for instance, has been using tree ring density in temperature reconstructions for years.

    e.g., from 2001 http://www.cru.uea.ac.uk/cru/people/briffa/jgr2001/Briffa2001.pdf

    Which makes me think that the divergence problem is not yet solved. Or is there actually a methodological ‘leap forward’ as suggested in the article?

  73. So, essentially, they went with the models rather than kind of really check by observation the climate around them trees? :p

  74. While tree-ring width in some places stops correlating with temperature after 1950, possibly due to moisture stress or changes in seasonality due to warming, tree ring density at the site studied continues to track temperature.”

    Since they didn’t measure temperatures at the location, they don’t know this. Unless their claim is that tree growth at this location is somehow teleconnected to global average temperatures.

    Further, solar insolation is the primary determinant of all plant growth, without controlling for this, they have no idea what caused the growth changes they found.

  75. “Evergreen trees at the edge of Alaska’s tundra are growing faster, suggesting that at least some forests may be adapting to a rapidly warming climate, says a new study.”

    What do trees growing around a Stevenson box do to the measured average temperature?

  76. They’re also not looking at past research.

    Many previous studies (such as here: http://aob.oxfordjournals.org/content/87/6/839.full.pdf), have found that increased CO2 actually increase frost hardiness in plants and trees.

    “…One almost universal response of plants to exposure to elevated CO2 is an increase in the concentration of total non-structural carbohydrates (TNC; starch plus soluble sugars) in leaves (e.g. Wong, 1990; Farrar and Williams, 1991; Bazzaz and Fajer, 1992; Korner and Arnone, 1992;
    Korner and Miglietta, 1994; Poorter et al., 1997). It has often been hypothesized that these increases in leaf carbohydrate concentrations may increase leaf freezing resistance…”

    So let’s see – increased CO2, increased frost hardiness in trees growing at the northern edge of Alaska’s tundra cause them to survive the winter better, and they grow faster.

    What was it they proved here?

  77. An acquaintance of mine used to grow medical marijuana. Besides regulating the temperature, light, fertilizer, and water, he had a CO2 generator and kept the plants supplied with 1200 ppm. He grew much bigger plants, faster, than you could outdoors.

    Perhaps Liebig was right after all. Now pick the limiting factor for tree growth. CO2, temp, nutrients (many), or water. Or any combination. Here in Montana it is normally water.

  78. “I was expecting to see trees stressed from the warmer temperatures,” said study lead author Laia Andreu-Hayles, a tree ring scientist at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. “What we found was a surprise.”

    Hugh Pepper: I would like you to explain away the notion of a preconceived view uttered in the above quote. Ms. Andreu-Hayles was going with a mind to find some kind of expected stress. There doesn’t seem to be any explanation of what that stress might be, just a notion that it would be there, and that its absence came as a ‘surprise’. Hers was a psychological admission, leaking out for all to see. Nothing to do with science. OK, so she was baffled. My “guess”? She was seeing a more-or-less normal Subarctic environment doing what it does best. A fraction of a Kelvin degree’s variation does nothing. She was expressing disappointment at having failed to find something to be alarmed about.

  79. I used to pass a willow tree on my way to a coffee shop. Its leaves remained longer than any other deciduous tree as fall progressed. As I used to hate winter, before I started studying climate change politics, the sight of a tree not yet hibernating for the winter delighted me. But one day during a wet snow fall, that tree split apart from the weight of snow on its leaves. I pass by that spot where that tree once grew and mourn its loss, but that’s nature and the plants that survive in harsh conditions do so for a reason.

  80. If by “adapting to a warmer climate”, they mean “prefer a warmer climate”, they’ve hit the nail on the head.

  81. Wait till they try to “Hide the incline” Then we”l see who’s laughing and who’s crying.

    I’m sure there will be investigations galore if that happens..

  82. While tree-ring width in some places stops correlating with temperature after 1950, possibly due to moisture stress or changes in seasonality due to warming, tree ring density at the site studied continues to track temperature.

    To make a long story much shorter for the noble researchers: “All cherry picked roads made of increased ring width or density segments put end to end will lead directly to YAD061″

  83. Hugh Pepper says:
    November 11, 2011 at 9:52 am

    “It is clear from this research that forests are in the process of dramatic change and it is a stretch to imagine a positive outcome after these changes.”

    Speak for yourself , Dr. Pepper! But me, judging from the anecdotal evidence you validly offer only for yourself, to no end, you are in severe need of some heavy duty antidepressants. Before it’s too late!

  84. And now it’s time for

    duuuuuuuuuh

    “I was expecting to see trees stressed from the warmer temperatures”

    As TheGoodLocust says, a train ride would have disabused them of that notion. Travel from the south of Finland to the north and watch the trees get shorter and shorter. But anyone who has anything to do with trees should already know about that.

  85. RoHa says:
    November 11, 2011 at 8:31 pm

    Aaaaargh! We’re going to be attacked by giant trees!

    We’re doomed!

    As if the Watermelons weren’t bad enough!

  86. My mom had her 1965 vintage gas furnace replaced with a brand new one last winter. Upstate New York, a furnace is serious business there. The new one is about twice as efficient. Saves big bucks on the gas bill.

    Anyhow, the new furnace had new intake/exhaust installed and because it’s so darned efficient the exhaust doesn’t even heat the exhaust pipe up enough to be uncomfortably warm to the touch. So it comes out of the house and blows right across a sidewalk about waist high. On the other side of that sidewalk is a 50 year-old McIntosh apple tree my dad and I planted. After that new furnace exhaust started blowing CO2 rich warm onto it’s old trunk it produced the biggest crop of apples, by far, this fall in its entire 50 year history.

  87. I don’t really see why this is surprising. There is a reason why it’s called a ‘greenhouse effect’ after all – the trapping of heat in order to boost the growth of plants.

    Unfortunately, some people seem to forget that greenhouses also need copious amounts of water to function. The conditions can also leave vast swathes of flora barren. Co2 is good, in the same way that water is good. It’s important. We need it. But would you want someone pouring a jug of water into your lungs?

    The analogy is similar if we turn our whole planet into a giant greenhouse.

  88. What a surprise, tree-ring lab scientist find the reality on the ground different to dire (models?) predictions. Remembers of what Freeman Dyson said.
    “It also strengthens support for an alternative technique for teasing climate data from trees in the far north, sidestepping recent methodological objections from climate skeptics.” – cheap shot at skeptics continued further with “but still scientists struggled with how to correct for the so-called divergence problem.’’ – trying to discuss away the real problems of Climategate.
    “In an area where the northern treeline gives way to open tundra, the scientists removed cores from living white spruces, as well as long-dead partially fosilized trees preserved under the cold conditions.” Interesting to see there are long-dead partially fossilised trees in the area where the northern treeline gives way to open tundra. So it is not only recently that trees grow there? And how far in the tundra are there fossilised trees? Not interesting for boreal forest history?
    “Satellite images have revealed swaths of brown, dying vegetation and a growing number of catastrophic wildfires ” – to compensate for the good news some dire words. Where is the data and the analysis?
    Ignorance of the benefits of CO2 and CO2 correlation as posted by Smokey (Smokey says:November 11, 2011 at 5:07 pm ). CO2 not even taken into consideration!
    One needs to learn to read between lines to separate the wheat from the chaff.

  89. This article shows how utterly useless “Science Education” has now become because it is no longer based on science but politics!

    These idiots ever hear of the “Tree Line” on mountains before???

  90. E. J. Mohr says:

    Also here in western Canada there is abundant evidence of forests growing high in the mountains where today there are no trees, because it is too cold. Of course the only news regarding these newly uncovered forests are scary headlines about global warming causing glaciers to melt and exposing these long buried trees.

    The real question to me, is why did it suddenly cool fast enough for advancing ice to cover entire forests, and this question is never asked.

    Other obvious questions would be “What killed these trees?” and “Did they all die at about the same time?”
    Maybe not so obvious to the AGW crowd…

  91. Finntastic says:
    November 12, 2011 at 2:41 am
    Co2 is good, in the same way that water is good. It’s important. We need it. But would you want someone pouring a jug of water into your lungs?
    In the realm of bad trollist analogies, yours certainly vies for the most inane. There is no evidence whatsoever that C02 levels are anywhere remotely close to what might be called dangerous levels, other than in the feverish imaginations of climate bedwetters.
    Additionally, your objection that “greenhouses also need copious amounts of water to function” belies the fact that rainfall seems to be plentiful in places where it is usually expected. I’m somewhat surprised you didn’t spout the usual Warmist nonsense about how it is now raining too much in some areas, and not enough in others, thanks to man.

  92. Finntastic says:
    November 12, 2011 at 2:41 am
    Unfortunately, some people seem to forget that greenhouses also need copious amounts of water to function.

    “Copious amounts”? Do you have a source for that assertion?

    For that matter, is this “copious amount” that plants growing in a greenhouse more or less water than a similar plant growing in the local environment?

  93. Hugh Pepper says:
    November 11, 2011 at 9:52 am

    Most of these comments are simply disrespectful and unworthy of further criticism. It is clear from this research that forests are in the process of dramatic change and it is a stretch to imagine a positive outcome after these changes. Given the host of negative synergies (eg wildfire), we should be very concerned about the prospects for a diminished boreal forest and it’s immense capacity to absorb CO2. Incidentally, these changes can be observed and I encourage your correspondents to make a trip to northern Canada or Alaska.
    =============================================
    Actually Hugh, there are a multitude of studies that show that boreal forests emit more carbon than they absorb – the one below suggest forest fires, others suggest decaying biomass. Bing it.

    http://www.vivelecanada.ca/article/19283768-looks-like-ronald-reagan-was-right-trees-do-create-pollution

    • Wayne Delbeke – the study you posted a link to is fit only for the bin. Models. GIGO.

      Here is a paper that appears not to rely on models:

      http://www.sciencemag.org/content/300/5625/1560.abstract

      :Our results indicate that global changes in climate have eased several critical climatic constraints to plant growth, such that net primary production increased 6% (3.4 petagrams of carbon over 18 years) globally.
      [a petagram is a billion tonnes]

      Not specific to boreal forests, but to global vegetation (their ‘primary production’ refers to global vegetation not to agriculture). Unfortunately the full paper is paywalled.

  94. Finntastic says:
    November 12, 2011 at 2:41 am

    Co2 is good, in the same way that water is good. It’s important. We need it. But would you want someone pouring a jug of water into your lungs?

    The analogy is similar if we turn our whole planet into a giant greenhouse.

    Your own body has already done both. Ave. human body CO2 concentration = 56,000 ppm vs atmospheric concentration of about 385 ppm C02. So you are not going to drown from atmospheric CO2 any time soon. We don’t drown from the atmospheric high of about 4% water vapor concentrations, either = 40,000 ppm., compared to the normal water vapor concentrations in the airways of the human body = 62,000 ppm.

    Regardless, the Earth is not a greenhouse because it is not enclosed. So the “greenhouse effect” attributed to CO2 is not analogous to a real greenhouse, whose temp. increases because its air is not subject to convection up and away from the greenhouse and out to space. You don’t need any CO2 in the greenhouse for that to not happen.

  95. Further to above, JPeden to Finntastic:

    Our bodies require around 6% carbon dioxide in every lungful of breath to function properly and we produce this ourselves because the amount required is not available from the atmosphere, and each breath expels with a 4% CO2 content. Although as it exits with water vapour it’s actually all carbonic acid. If we can’t for some reason get the 6% in each lungful for healthy oxygen transportation through the blood etc., the body will attempt to conserve what it has by restricting breathing.. Someone hyperventilating for any reason, shock or something, and losing too much carbon dioxide will go into an asthma-like attack as the body attempts to stop the dilution by too much air until it can re-establish its optimum levels. Hence the ol’ breathing into brown paper bag – breathing back in any carbon dioxide expelled to quieten the body’s panic at not having sufficient of it.

  96. I’m ROFL.

    Isn’t the whole idea of tree-ring analysis that low temperature is limiting on growth? How far above the low limit is a high limit?

    Perhaps for a particular species there is a top temperature, different for trembling aspen than cactus I suppose (well, moisture is a factor) and varying with species (Lebanon/Himalayn Cedar for example transplants to a variety of climates). I point to tropical jungles as evidence that high temperatures are not bad.

  97. JohnWho says:
    November 12, 2011 at 2:46 pm

    Finntastic says:
    November 12, 2011 at 2:41 am
    Unfortunately, some people seem to forget that greenhouses also need copious amounts of water to function.

    “Copious amounts”? Do you have a source for that assertion?

    For that matter, is this “copious amount” that plants growing in a greenhouse more or less water than a similar plant growing in the local environment?

    It is actually the opposite. There is a large amount of (real) peer reviewed papers at co2science.com that shows that plants growing in atmospheres with high concentrations of CO2 are more drough resistant. I think it is because plants can keep their stomas closed for longer time and therefore reducing water loss by transpiration while having enough CO2 to keep the Calvin cycle running.

  98. The tree researcher exclaims: “I was expecting to see trees stressed from the warmer temperatures,”…“What we found was a surprise.”

    Of course they were surprised. They were expecting justification to “hide the decline.”

  99. I have a college level botany book published around 1969 that details most of the so-called “discoveries” made by these neo-scientists.

    The chemistry of photosynthesis and it’s reaction to increased ambient warmth, increased CO2, and/or increased H2O, and the many impact variations of all three interacting at various concentrations or levels, has been known for over 100 years.

    These people seem to be doing old science all over again.

    Don’t they read?

    It wouldn’t bother me except the my tax dollars are supporting these people.

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