Another climate sticky wicket – ‘climate change is poised to reduce the viability of the maple syrup industry’

From the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies  where if you can get past the headline, this is notable: “We found that global climate models omit factors critical to understanding forest response, such as hydrology, soil conditions, and plant-animal interactions.” Point though: one experimental tree forest does not a GCM factor make.

Maple syrup, moose, and the local impacts of climate change

Understanding warming requires long term studies that account for real-life complexity

A researcher investigates that impact of soil freezing at the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Credit: Hubbard Brook Ecosystem Study Photo Archive

Millbrook, N.Y. — In the northern hardwood forest, climate change is poised to reduce the viability of the maple syrup industry, spread wildlife diseases and tree pests, and change timber resources. And, according to a new BioScience paper just released by twenty-one scientists, without long-term studies at the local scale—we will be ill-prepared to predict and manage these effects.

Following an exhaustive review of more than fifty years of long term data on environmental conditions at the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest, located in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, the paper’s authors arrived at a sobering conclusion: current climate change models don’t account for real life surprises that take place in forests.

Lead author Dr. Peter Groffman, a microbial ecologist at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies, comments, “Climate change plays out on a stage that is influenced by land-use patterns and ecosystem dynamics. We found that global climate models omit factors critical to understanding forest response, such as hydrology, soil conditions, and plant-animal interactions.”

One thing is clear: at Hubbard Brook Forest spring is advancing and fall is retreating. Over the past half century, the climate has warmed and there has been a rise in rainfall and a decrease in snowfall. Winters are getting shorter and milder, with snowpack melting some two weeks earlier. But soil thaw is no longer tightly coupled with spring plant growth, creating a transitional period that results in the loss of important soil nutrients.

In the absence of insulating snow pack, exposed soils are more susceptible to freezing, which damages tree roots. Sugar maples are suffering a one-two punch: soil frost is linked to tree mortality and warmer winters reduce sap yield. Mild winters are also encouraging the spread of pests and pathogens, including the destructive hemlock woolly adelgid—which was once held in check by cold winter temperatures.

As snow depth decreases, deer are better able to forage in the forest. Their browsing damages young trees and spreads a parasite that is lethal to moose. Reduced snow pack is also a challenge for logging operations, which use snow-packed roads to move trees, and ski resorts, which already rely heavily on manmade snow.

Groffman concludes, “Managing the forests of the future will require moving beyond climate models based on temperature and precipitation, and embracing coordinated long-term studies that account for real-world complexities.” Adding, “These studies can be scaled up, to give a more accurate big picture of climate change challenges—while also providing more realistic approaches for tackling problems at the regional scale.”

###

Paper Title: Long-Term Integrated Studies Show Complex and Surprising Effects of Climate Change in the Northern Hardwood Forest

Authors: Peter M. Groffman, Lindsey E. Rustad, Pamela H. Templer, John L. Campbell, Lynn M. Christenson, Nina K. Lany, Anne M. Socci, Matthew A. Vadeboncoeur, Paul G. Schaberg, Geoffrey F. Wilson, Charles T. Driscoll, Timothy J. Fahey, Melany C. Fisk, Christine L. Goodale, Mark B. Green, Steven P. Hamburg, Chris E. Johnson, Myron J. Mitchell, Jennifer L. Morse, Linda H. Pardo, and Nicholas L. Rodenhouse

Bioscience paper: http://www.aibs.org/bioscience-press-releases/121116_indirect_effects_of_climate_change_could_alter_landscapes.html.

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82 thoughts on “Another climate sticky wicket – ‘climate change is poised to reduce the viability of the maple syrup industry’

  1. We see the same pap inserted in official reports to and by the various state environmental agencies and groups paid to produce this trash throughtout the country. In the TVA coverage area we are following developments in the endlessly fascinating Chervon v Ecuador case. Stratus Consulting one of the perps in the Chevron RICO case have transferred millions from our pockets to theirs by participating in shakedowns of the hapless TVA. In response to Climategate our then Congressman Bart Gordon responded “we need more research”

  2. And here I thought Yamal resolved all these issues a long time ago–once and for all!

    (Do these people not talk to Mikey?)

  3. To be cited as “proof” global warming will lead to increased deaths, although climate change isn’t mentioned (at least in this report of the work) and it’s just a regional grouping of trends:

    People who live in tropics more likely to die seven years earlier

    People living in the tropics are likely to die more than seven years younger than those in other regions, according to the first findings of a new global research project.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/australiaandthepacific/australia/9688146/People-who-live-in-tropics-more-likely-to-die-seven-years-earlier.html

  4. “We found that global climate models omit factors critical to understanding forest response”

    Of course they get everything else right though….. lol.

  5. I hope all these dire predictions turn into delirious enthusiasm when it becomes apparent that the world is now cooling, not warming, and is likely to do so for a couple of decades or more. All the terrible predictions emanating from the prospect of global warming will disappear in a proverbial puff of smoke and we can all be relaxed and happy again.
    Oh, wait, what were they saying back in the 70s the last time it was cooling?

  6. What happened to the maple trees in the winters of the 1880s? Were all these cold years ones with lots of snow or were they just cold? Claiming ‘Climate Change’ and not taking history into account is omitting scientific research to push a case. Real data beats models, too.

  7. So many unsustantiated assumptions, I don’t know where to start. Ric Werme has more hard data in his home office than those 21 authors used for their ramblings.

    Heres a quick one:
    “As snow depth decreases, deer are better able to forage in the forest. Their browsing damages young trees”

    From a ten second Google:
    “Despite the species being greatly reduced in the US by the 1940s because of unregulated hunting and predator abundance, white-tailed deer numbers have increased significantly and populations are thriving”

    Is there more deer foraging damage because it was previously limited by snowpack, or just more deer period?

  8. Within the actual paper there is this:
    The climate of the HBEF has changed over the last half
    century. At the four weather stations with the longest
    records (43–52 years), the average annual air temperature
    has increased by 0.17°C–0.29°C per decade, with more
    marked warming in winter than in summer (Campbell et al.
    2007, Hamburg et al. 2012). These local trends in air temperature
    are characteristic of the region and are expected
    to continue into the future, with projected increases of
    2.1°C–5.3°C by 2100 (Hayhoe et al. 2007, Huntington et al.
    2009).

    There are many interesting ideas in this paper. I wonder if their forest has continued to warm over the last 15 years? The projected temperature for 2100 (up by 2.1°C–5.3°C) [They mean C. degrees, not degrees C.], fits at the lower value if the regional trend continues. A big IF. But it looks like they segued to a “CO2 climate model” for that ∆5.3.

  9. “one experimental tree forest does not a GCM factor make”
    BUT
    one experimental tree a Hockey Stick makes.

  10. ..according to a new BioScience paper just released by twenty-one scientists, without long-term studies at the local scale—we will be ill-prepared to predict and manage these effects..

    I think 21 scientists are looking to continue their easy jobs into the future. After their crap report they deserve a sacking!

  11. “…the paper’s authors arrived at a sobering conclusion: current climate change models don’t account for real life surprises that take place in forests.”

    Then just imagine how sobered up they’d be if they knew the true scale of what climate change models don’t account for. Given the prospect of financial withdrawal, there’d probably be 21 more cases of the “D.T.s”!

  12. A reasonable conclusion, especially the idea that climate models lack skill for application. As Tim Palmer, a leading climate modeler at the European Centre for Medium – Range Weather Forecasts in Reading England said, “I don’t want to undermine the IPCC, but the forecasts, especially for regional climate change, are immensely uncertain.” The complexity of the model required is much more than the authors allow as was discovered the last time the Maple tree drew attention. The grid size and lack of data points seriously limits and often negates any such study. I know having been involved in many studies, one about causes of a massive failure of tree seedlings in reforestation. There the model used was based on mature trees, but seedlings, especially in a large exposed area, are affected by very different conditions and factors.

    Another was about Maple trees. A great deal of research was done about Maple trees when acid rain was falsely accused of causing a decline in syrup yields. The primary causes were shown to be related to early spring warmth followed by a hard frost or drought both of which caused “die back”. This means loss of first growth leaves. Leaves regrow but fewer and smaller thus reducing sap flow. A similar effect is caused with various forms of insect infestation but particularly the Tent caterpillars.

    http://www.rutlandherald.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060524/NEWS/605240351

    This adjustment is critical to these types of climate studies because plants have remarkable “catch-up” abilities as they always drive to reach seed production. Similar factors were discovered with other studies, for example effects on delayed season by increasing snow cover by cloud seeding to increase runoff in Colorado. All this flies in the face of the incorrect assumption that plants can’t or won’t adjust to warming or climate change. Obviously there are limits, but the range a types of adjustments are quite remarkable.

  13. Time, don’t you think, to start banging the skeptical drum regarding what we’re going to miss as global cooling continues. Thinks like Canadian wheat, corn, wild rice, quinoa, wine grapes… well, pretty much anything grown in Canada. Same in South America’s lower latitudes. Africa is going to starve, but nothing new there. Too busy buying up bombs and rockets to worry overmuch about the rank and file.

    Norway and Finland will suffer significantly – does anyone remember the century of freeze that nearly wiped out the Sami people?

    Bad stuff coming – I hope governments hang on to some of that absurd cap and trade wealth to help pick up the heating bill for the circumpolar nations.

  14. “Professor Lyon A. Borehole, is currently communicating URGENT climatological findings to his assistant, who’s just asked a Pertinant Question: Let’s listen in –
    “Hay.
    Wat.
    How yew no wichwun uh thim bore holes is KaluhBraytid?
    Caws this’n’s uhWun Ima borin boy, now git bak! Git Bakck! ”

    “….Back to you, Bill..”

  15. Doug says:
    November 20, 2012 at 9:19 pm

    So many unsubstantiated assumptions, I don’t know where to start. Ric Werme has more hard data in his home office than those 21 authors used for their ramblings.

    I half read, half skimmed the paper and am surprised by it’s wealth of speculation and lack of hard data.

    Folks at the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest do some really good work, and have some decades-long studies going on, but I get the sense that this paper was the result of a class project.

    With all those authors, I get the sense that people tried to focus on individual aspects, but wound up losing sight of the overall conclusions. Way too many people for one paper!

    My home data focuses on snow depth around New England measured by weather observers interested in the subject. One of the things that comes through loud and clear is that snowfall and snow depth are absolutely horrid things to use to look for climate change. I only have about 13 years, see http://wermenh.com/sdd/index.html for the starting point. Some years my data at home tracked Derry, about 30 miles away, well. In other years I’d get much more than them. In a couple years, Rhode Island got more as the storm track was south enough to bring them snow instead of rain, and bring my nothing.

    Even 60 years of data at one site likely will present challenges in looking for trends. I sort of like their looking at snow melt dates. Data from Mt Mansfield in Vermont show very quick snow melt late in the season, and complete snow melt occurs about the same time with some neighboring year.

    However, consider this:

    Data for all four sites and nine full years of record indicate a rapid increase of up to 8°C in surface soil temperature within 48 hours in early spring, usually occurring immediately after the snowpack melts completely (as is shown in figure 2 for a midelevation site measured in 2003). The likely cause of this sudden increase in soil temperature is the abrupt decrease in surface albedo in response to the loss of the reflective snowpack and exposure of dark soils to solar radiation unhindered by the forest canopy in these deciduous forest sites.

    Sure, albedo drops when the snow melts, but before then, as snow changes to the granular “corn snow,” albedo drops in the transition and more as it thins. Until the snow all melts, it keeps the ground temperature at near freezing. Once the snow gone then there’s nothing to counter radiational heating or warm air advection. I remember one day in March in Plymouth NH (about 20 miles south of HBEF) when we lost 6″ of snow in one sunny and warm (80°F) day, then 5″ a few days later. Any newly exposed ground that day warmed up quickly! Also, if you’ve heard the phrase “snow eating fog,” I think that has cause and effect switched. if the air mass has a dew point above freezing, then water condenses on the snow, melting it quickly. Also, water vapor that doesn’t form dew forms fog. If the dewpoint is below freezing, then condensation doesn’t occur and snow doesn’t melt much that day, especially if it’s cloudy.

    On April 1st in Penacook in the ridiculously snowy 2007/2008 winter, snowpack dropped 4 inches from 17″ that morning, it was all gone by the 11th. The high sun, long days, and bare trees make it tough to keep snow in April. BTW, an aside – November is usually our cloudiest month. This year I frequently commented in October about how much it looked like November. This month is shaping up to be one of the sunniest Novembers on record, I’m sure. Extreme weather!

    Finally, on the sticky subject of maple syrup, there are at least couple confounding issues. One is that while the oldtimers report significant changes over many years, changes in handling the sap run probably have had some influence. Also, in any given season, I’ve come to expect that some area in New England will have a great season, but others will have a lousy season. It’s often hard to predict. Great seasons typically have clear skies with cold mornings around freezing and afternoons in the 40s and 50s. If some clouds move in for a few days and temperatures stay above freezing for the duration, that can really hurt the “harvest.”

  16. John F. Hultquist says:
    November 20, 2012 at 9:22 pm

    There are many interesting ideas in this paper. I wonder if their forest has continued to warm over the last 15 years?

    I think the data would be too noisy to tell. We have enough trouble looking at global temperature changes in data sets with thousands of stations, data from just four are going to be very noisy and a big challenge to find a trend.

    Mods – my last comment seems to have been captured by the WP spam troll.

  17. Time to introduce a new logical fallacy, methinks:

    “Appeal to Funding”…..”without long-term studies at the local scale—we will be ill-prepared to predict and manage these effects.”

    You decide that there MIGHT be a problem with the New England Sugar Bush….while ignoring the obvious fact that the darn thing has already survived exhumation from under a kilometer of ice, or warming on a grand scale. And oh-no, you will be unable to predict something, let alone something inherently unpredictable, you idiots!

  18. I simply applied the Eschenbach Test to this paper. Quality of papar is inversely related to the number of co-authors.

  19. How did the maple forests ever survive the Medieval Warm period?

    Oh well, not to worry too much as the world is supposed to end next month on Dec. 21st [I think that is the latest prediction].

  20. You know, some of these same alarms were expressed in the 1930s. Google up 1930s forests and 1930s forest fires and you can see what I mean.

    A lot of forest in North America had been cut down by the 1920-1930s to build out railroad, houses, cities and towns. Remind you of anything? Like…. when the Mayans perished in the drought. Because they cut down all their trees to heat mortar.

    So the Dust Bowl probably has a big relationship with the early 1930’s deforestation. Looking at the videos and maps of the tree cutting.

  21. I read the entire article.

    Four points:

    1. “Could” was the most frequently used word.
    2. The area in question was extensively logged in the 1930s, so the forest was observed during a period when the trees were unusually young.
    3. This is clearly a paper trying to demonstrate that its authors have some use in the great scheme of things and therefore need some more grant funding.
    4. Conclusions are based on GIGO computer models predicting linear trends far into the future.

  22. Science has become politicised. Sensible, competent (but perhaps not highly moral) scientists, who want a reasonable living followed by a comfortable retirement, know that CAGW / climate change is the magical, cash-attracting formula. I don’t know that I really blame them.

    So long as grants are awarded on the whims of politically constituted/influenced/motivated allocatory bodies this scenario is unlikely to improve. Science in the service of the state. Publish or perish. Too bad about pure research: exploring unknowns, chasing possibilities, frequent honest failure and the occasional elusive success. Give the funding committees what they want and have a career. Screw the science!

    The real alternative is simply to give universities all of their funding to spend at their discretion. If scientists are not sufficiently trustworthy to make responsible choices in this regard, why should they be expected to give honest results when chasing money? You could probably save a few bucks on bloated administrative systems, too.

    Rant over.

  23. ut’s all part of the build-up to the UN climate talks in Doha later this month, expect more:

    21 Nov: Australian: AFP: Temperature targets unlikely to be met, UN World Meteorological Organisation says
    Levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) – the single most important man-made contributor to climate change – rose to 390.9 parts per million in 2011, which is 2.0 ppm higher than in 2010, the WMO said…
    “Even if we were able to stop them tomorrow, these greenhouse gases will continue to have an effect for centuries,” Mr Jarraud said at the launch of the annual Greenhouse Gas Bulletin report in Geneva.
    CO2 levels are at 140 per cent of the pre-industrial level before 1750, Mr Jarraud said. According to the WMO, about 375 billion tonnes of carbon have been released into the atmosphere as CO2 in the past 260 years.
    “These billions of tonnes of additional carbon dioxide in our atmosphere will remain there for centuries, causing our planet to warm further and impacting on all aspects of life on earth,” Mr Jarraud said in a statement.
    “Future emissions will only compound the situation,” he said.
    Taking the long view on data to smooth out year-on-year anomalies, the WMO showed that while carbon dioxide in the atmosphere increased on average 1.5 ppm during the 1990s, the average annual hike from 2000 to 2010 stood at 2.0 ppm.
    “So it’s not just increasing, it’s increasing exponentially,” WMO scientific officer Oksana Tarasova told reporters…
    Mr Jarraud, meanwhile, pointed out that so-called “carbon sinks”, including oceans, have until now absorbed nearly half of the CO2 emitted by humans, but stressed that “this will not necessarily continue in the future.”
    Five major gases account for 96 per cent of the warming of our climate, according to the WMO, which released its annual greenhouse gas report ahead of a new round of UN climate talks in Doha later this month.…BLAH BLAH BLAH

    http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/health-science/temperature-targets-unlikely-to-be-met-un-world-meteorological-organisation-says/story-e6frg8y6-1226520961626

    ——————————————————————————–

  24. does michael mann eat chocolate?

    20 Nov: Daily Mail: Does eating chocolate make you clever? New research suggests it may help you win a Nobel prize, at least..
    US research suggests the higher a country’s chocolate consumption, the more Nobel laureates it spawns
    Researcher admits research is tongue-in-cheek, but maintains findings are scientifically sound

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2235932/Does-eating-chocolate-make-clever-New-research-suggests-help-win-Nobel-prize-.html

  25. One thing is clear: at Hubbard Brook Forest spring is advancing and fall is retreating. Over the past half century, the climate has warmed and there has been a rise in rainfall and a decrease in snowfall. Winters are getting shorter and milder, with snowpack melting some two weeks earlier.

    [June 2008] “Ohio’s maple syrup producers this year tapped into their largest harvest since 1959.”

    [June 2011] “The 2011 yield was 0.309 gallons per tap, an 83 percent increase from last year and the highest yield per tap since this statistic was first measured in 2001.”

  26. kadaka (KD Knoebel) says:
    November 20, 2012 at 9:07 pm

    To be cited as “proof” global warming will lead to increased deaths, although climate change isn’t mentioned (at least in this report of the work) and it’s just a regional grouping of trends:

    People who live in tropics more likely to die seven years earlier

    They do give a wink and nod to climate while failing to mention standards of living and the average age people died in the UK between 1800 and 1850 (part of the Little Ice age too). The average life expectancy in England in 1850 was 41 years. Today in the tropics (as per article) 64.4 years. Nothing to do with global warming.

  27. The authors forgot to include a plea for grant money to do a followup study on the serious question of whether or not venison tastes better when infused with maple syrup. I also hope a sociologist connects to this study and looks at how global change causes a shortage of maple syrup which causes Mad Maple Syrup Syndrome in people – a potentially fatal problem if you short my pancakes of maple syrup.

    Seriously, how long has mankind been doing forest management and these scientists are the best we have to offer to the practice? As I read this abstract, they essentially are saying we don’t know diddly about managing forests. Probably true, but not exactly encouraging. You have to love the doom and gloom crowd.

  28. Old woman of the north says:
    November 20, 2012 at 9:11 pm

    “What happened to the maple trees in the winters of the 1880s? […]”
    ========================================================
    Back then they were called ‘firewood’ not maple trees ;o)

  29. “Despite the species being greatly reduced in the US by the 1940s because of unregulated hunting and predator abundance, white-tailed deer numbers have increased significantly and populations are thriving”

    So unregulate the hunting again.

    “Mild winters are also encouraging the spread of pests and pathogens, including the destructive hemlock woolly adelgid—which was once held in check by cold winter temperatures.”

    So the viable range for sugar maple trees will move north and Canadians will take up the slack in maple syrup production.

  30. In re complexity of reality, N. N. Taleb argues that reality is fractally complex, forever damning induction. It is amusing that this issue should again arise in weather forecasting that recognized the butterfly’s wing a while ago.

  31. Well said Tim. I can’t help but notice reduced syrup production from the same orchard over a 45 year period of sugaring. It’s just one indicator that something is going on. I think natural climate change is a candidate but not human induced. The same trend could reverse its self in the next 40 years so I think models are as useful for this problem as they are for predicting stock prices. Past history is not an indicator of future performance.

  32. Mike Jonas says:
    November 20, 2012 at 9:10 pm

    I hope all these dire predictions turn into delirious enthusiasm when it becomes apparent that the world is now cooling, not warming, and is likely to do so for a couple of decades or more. All the terrible predictions emanating from the prospect of global warming will disappear in a proverbial puff of smoke and we can all be relaxed and happy again.
    Oh, wait, what were they saying back in the 70s the last time it was cooling?
    __________________
    They’re already out with their response…. “Oh, but warming will be so much worse after this natural cooling cycle ends”… decades of doing nothing while poisonous CO2 accumulates, you see.

    It isn’t turtles, but rationalizations, all the way down.

  33. Groffman concludes, “Managing the forests of the future will require moving beyond climate models based on temperature and precipitation, and embracing coordinated long-term studies that account for real-world complexities.” Adding, “These studies can be scaled up, to give a more accurate big picture of climate change challenges—while also providing more realistic approaches for tackling problems at the regional scale.”

    The shorter Groffman: Hang Big Climate and their expensive, overrated computers cos we’re gunna need heaps of that taxpayer moolah around our neck of the woods where it’s really at.

  34. The only parts of the world which experience unprecedented conditions upon further warming are the present warmest parts of the world. Everywhere else just experiences a shift to a new normal which is already prevalent today.

  35. Here in the central Appalachians, sugar maples are aggressive competitors, spreading along valleys and even upslope into the oak forest. They tolerate shade and eventually crowd out other trees. They are advancing southeastward into previously all oak-hickory forests. To suggest there is some “problem” for sugar maples, climate-wise, is ridiculous — they’re thriving and expanding their range.

  36. I had a Canadian teacher in primary school, I was 8 I am now 71, who told us all about collecting maple syrup as a child in Quebec where, I bet, it is colder than New Hampshire. So all those years ago and climate change has been in action over all that time still maples produce syrup.
    As far as snow depth and browsing deer is concerned, having visited Yellowstone NP and seen browsing evidence 40ft+ up on fir trees I do not think that snow depth affects browsing deer or moose. If it did they would all migrate south before snow depth became a problem.

  37. Well I would be more worried about the effect on the trees, of the barbaric mutilation of them,for their sap.

    And all quite unnecessary. The midwest plains States can make all the high fructose corn syrup needed for everybody’s pancakes till the end of time; and a whole lot cheaper too.

  38. Fifty years ago climate was perfect and unchanging.

    And then some lady got some dude to eat an apple.

    The end.

  39. “…just released by twenty-one scientists, without long-term studies at the local scale—we will be ill-prepared to predict and manage these effects…”

    Interesting suggestion, but it all boils down to “We want on the warming money band wagon. We can make models with alarming disasters too.”.

    Deer parasites released during lower snow fall depth kill moose… That’s a new one. Is it only parasites released during specific snow conditions? What about the other ten months?

    When, not if, the climate eventually warms sufficiently for New England to have milder winters, then the peak maple sap productivity will move north. End of story. When, the New England climate cools sufficiently for New England to have truly harsh winters, maple sap production will move back to the mid-Atlantic.

    It’s happened before and it will happen again.

    Euell Gibbons proved, and many back country folks have known since pre-columbus times, is that many trees provide extra sap in the first flush of spring warmth. Perhaps these scientists should be researching what other trees could make up any difference if the maples provide less, (Euell like birch tree syrup). I’ve pruned grape vines at the wrong time of year and then worried they were going to bleed to death, sap literally ran as if from a leaky faucet.

  40. Can someone point me to, give me a link, to an online tool that will allow me to see/create historical graphs of surface temperatures for particular locations?

    Thanks,

  41. This desperate campaign to blame absolutely everything that CAN go wrong on global warming, even before it DOES go wrong, is getting just plain tacky.

  42. They seem surprised by the fact that nature has ways of adapting to changing climate, and that their precious GCM’s can’t account for those. Imagine how shocked they’d be at how fundamentally flawed their GCM’s really are.

  43. @ Doug: Is there more deer foraging damage because it was previously limited by snowpack, or just more deer period?

    I think both factors could be at play. There is definitely a line (approximately 60cm) where snow depth can be very hard on deer, particularly if there is any crust. Moving gets too difficult resulting in low food intake and susceptibility to predators. Bad snow years can see a 50+% drop in population and decreased fawn viability. So, if 60cm+ snow depths used to occur for example 1 in 5 years, but due to a warming trend (whatever the cause) now only occur 1 in 10 years, that would significantly influence populations and therefore the damage they do to small trees used as food.

  44. The Hubbard Brook ecosystem is one of the most measured anywhere in the world. Actual observations in detail for half a century make it a premiere example of good science. Snarky commentors should should accept that the changes are real and not digital speculations. We who live in the Northeast know winters are milder now compared to fifty years ago and the biosphere has responded to the change. It will respond again as we go into a probable cooling period. The point is that adequate forest management requires knowledge of the system dynamics that research sites like Hubbard Brook provide. Bashing a report because the dreaded word “models” appears in it is lame. C’mon fellow-skeptics, get a grip.

  45. The closest town is Woodstock, NH. Can someone trend the temp data to see just how big a problem climate change really is in the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest?

    A visit to the Hubbard Brook Research Foundation website is informative:

    http://hubbardbrookfoundation.org/

    They explore ‘Carbon and Communties, Acid Rain, Mercury, and Nitrogen Pollution’.

  46. In that part of the US, the NCDC graphs do show a consistent and long warming trend with no indication of an impending flip to cool. Most other parts of the US show recent cooling or no particular long trend.

    So the specific concern for “New England Warming” (perhaps due to Gulf Stream shifts?) may be valid, but all attempts to connect it to some “Global” phenomenon are invalid. There simply isn’t any “Global” trend.

  47. In the absence of a viable economy there will be tribes of climate studiers and health care cost shifters with more studies.

  48. george e. smith says:
    November 21, 2012 at 4:54 am

    Well I would be more worried about the effect on the trees, of the barbaric mutilation of them,for their sap.

    And all quite unnecessary. The midwest plains States can make all the high fructose corn syrup needed for everybody’s pancakes till the end of time; and a whole lot cheaper too.

    Heresy! My wife and I have brought real maple syrup to restaurants that don’t have it an suggested to B&B’s and restaurants that they could charge a little extra for maple syrup.

  49. I agree with MJB, in Maine snowy winters lead to high white tailed deer mortality whereas moose are not effected and overwinter well.

  50. People who live in tropics more likely to die seven years earlier
    =========
    People in the tropics are living longer than they did 50 years ago before the warming. If warming was bad, they should be living shorter than they did 50 years ago.

    People in cold climates tend to live longer than people in warm climates because cold long ago killed off the grasshoppers that fiddled all day and left only the hard working ants. In the tropics the grasshoppers still fiddle all day and die from poverty.

  51. Gary says:
    November 21, 2012 at 5:51 am
    The point is that adequate forest management requires knowledge of the system dynamics that research sites like Hubbard Brook provide.
    The trouble is that their conclusions about what is happening, and more importantly, what will happen in the future are all GCM-based. If only they would just stick to the actual science!

  52. Over the past half century, the climate has warmed and there has been a rise in rainfall and a decrease in snowfall. Winters are getting shorter and milder, with snowpack melting some two weeks earlier.

    Presumably this would be beneficial for the other, larger segments of New England’s agricultural economy. But why aren’t there studies of those larger segments, instead of ones relentlessly accentuating the negative? Because that’s what funding agencies like to hear? And that’s the fashionable finding to make a career?

    (I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with this study. I like its sophistication and carefulness, and wish other studies had those characteristics.)

  53. I’d like to add a bit of Yankee lore, concerning Sugar Maples. While lore can’t count as “objective science,” it can’t be totally discounted.

    The English branch of my family goes back to the Mayflower, (along with 15 million or so other Americans, who sprang from around hundred Pilgrims,) and also I live in the same general area they lived, nearly 400 years ago. Also I come from a line of men who had children later in life than my eldest son, (who was a father at eighteen.) For example, my great-great grandfather, born in 1797, fathered my great-grandfather in 1850, and he fathered my grandfather in 1888. For this reason I’ve heard tales “handed down” that might be forgotten in other families.

    I’ve heard Sugar Maples did not grow in the south of New England when the Pilgrims arrived. The local Indians did not have a word for “sugar,” (or “salt,”) and were scornful of the English for being addicted to sugar. The English were trying to get these Indians interested in sugar, because they had a lot of sugar cane growing down in Jamaica, and wanted to trade.

    To the north and west Sugar Maples did grow, and in those places Indians harvested Maple Syrup in large amounts. Those Indians did have a word for “sugar,” though they also were not very interested in cane sugar, preferring Maple Sugar.

    (The fact the English could not sell the sugar resulted in them turning the sugar into rum, which did sell.)

    The reason Sugar Maples didn’t grow down on the coastal plain was likely an after-effect of the MWP. Sugar Maples can be hurt by January thaws. The sap starts to rise too early, and when bitter cold returns the freezing sap expands and ruptures the bark. This makes tasty icicles, but wounds the tree. Too many wounds and the tree is susceptible to fugal invasions, sickens, and dies. It is for this reason that, though Sugar Maples grow all the way down to the mountains of Georgia, they won’t grow where winters are too warm.

    Because the Pilgrims arrived during the Little Ice Age, they were able to plant Sugar Maples in Southern New England and have them do well, and to harvest sugar. Likely they hastened an expansion which would have occurred naturally. However even in the time Henry Thoreau wrote (1840’s-1860’s) it was unusual to find a “wild” Sugar Maple in Massachusetts woods, which is why he is surprised and mentions finding one in “Weston Woods.” (As those woods are up on a highland west of Boston, there is a chance that particular “wild” Sugar Maple didn’t blow as a winged seed from a plantation of trees, but was from a local group that survived the warmth of the MWP.)

    In any case, because I know this lore I tend to be less alarmed than my friends, when Sugar Maples die in the Boston Area, and I’m less likely to blame CO2 and SUV’s.

    It’s been much warmer in the past. Here’s an interesting old (2006) article about the
    “Hypsithermal,” roughly 4000 years ago: http://pielkeclimatesci.wordpress.com/2006/07/12/open-arctic-ocean-commentary-by-harvey-nichols-professor-of-biology/

  54. Gary says:
    November 21, 2012 at 5:51 am
    The Hubbard Brook ecosystem is one of the most measured anywhere in the world.
    ========
    The Uncertainty Principle ensures that the more you measure a system, the more it will change as a result of the measurements, obscuring any change that would have occurred in the absence of measurement.

    in measuring the Hubbard Brook ecosystem, researchers have changed the Hubbard Brook ecosystem. How can anyone be sure that any change they are measuring is not anthropogenic, caused by the presence of the researchers themselves. Or is the lesson of frog death to be forgotten so soon?

  55. A “sticky wicket” indeed. I am most surprised to see this expression from the sport of cricket used by someone from North America; but then in the scripts of the “Bilko” show Phil Silvers would give himself a line like: “Well Doberman, you’ve blotted your copybook!”, and when told that his audience wouldn’t get it he’d say “Ah, but they’ll understand it in England”. Are you a bit of an Anglophile Anthony?

  56. Louis Hooffstetter says:
    November 21, 2012 at 5:53 am
    They explore ‘Carbon and Communties, Acid Rain, Mercury, and Nitrogen Pollution’.
    ===========
    Nitrogen pollution? Surprised Al Gore isn’t out there campaigning for a cap and trade on Nitrogen. The EPA should be setting limits on the amount of Nitrogen Pollution allowed in the environment.

    There should be strict limits on the amount of Nitrogen emitted by power plants and automobiles. Nitrogen emissions need to be lowered substantially from the 79% of all air-borne emissions to much less than 1%. Nitrogen pollution is responsible for untold deaths each year in the US alone.

  57. I grew up in maple syrup country in Eastern Canada. At various times we heard about the death of the industry due to weather conditions, while much of it was economic. Going to a syrup bush, the situation was obvious: the trees were dying of old age and there were no new trees growing, as there was neither the excess cash flow nor the interest in maintaining the family business considering the reward/work ratio. But the weather was always a concern, with newspapers reporting on a good harvest or a bad one in progress. Maple syrup harvesting is a risky endeavour and requires a certain level, speed and duration to have happended.

    The story, as written, has only value if you believe that a human-caused, permanent/very long timeframe warming is going on. Like so many of these type of stories, they are grounded in a “growing” understanding of how temperature and precipitation affects the biosphere. In former days, the study would merely describe the effects these variables would have. Now they are structured to show the effect “man-made” climate change is having.

    If you are a researcher, you structure what you do around how the community sees value in your work. Pure research had a place. Now, with “policy relevant” directions, that same research is coded as “climate change stud\y”. In a few years the study will be about the potential negative impact of longer, colder winters and springs on the maply syrup industry. Perhaps at some time it will be on how changing conditions impact the industry. I look forward to that generalized time.

  58. @ Gary – The Hubbard Brook ecosystem is one of the most measured anywhere in the world….. Bashing a report because the dreaded word “models” appears in it is lame. C’mon fellow-skeptics, get a grip.

    Very well said. I work in forestry and the wealth of information, particularly the long-term data, generated by the Hubbard Brook study has been invaluable. If their data indicates a local warming trend, or decreasing snow cover, I would tend to believe it. The cause of these changes, relation to past changes, etc. are still fair questions of course.

  59. While the techical conclusions of this paper are probably correct (changes to soil structure, herbivore feeding habits, etc), the conclusion that this will “reduce the viability of the maple syrup industry” is untrue. At most, it will simply make it unviable in its current geographic location. Until man started building farms and roads and making assumptions that Nature was somehow static, forests migrated. Areas that had been pine forest were gradually converted to hardwood. And other factors over time would take down the hardwood stands are restart the cycle.

    Even if every hypothesis in this paper is true, the maple sugar industry will survive – just in a different location.

  60. 10000 years ago the Florida maple syrup industry was devastated by global warming. Sadly, they didn’t have Al, Lisa, Mann and the IPCC to save them.
    How dumb do they think we are? (Probably shouldn’t ask that) Trees grow where the environment suits them. I was being a bit flippant, but I’m pretty sure the trees in the northeast weren’t there 20,000 years ago when that 2 mile thick ice sheet was there.
    Treelines move with the climate, that’s a fact of nature. When the next ice age starts, treelines will move south again as saplings find better conditions there and there isn’t a thing we can do about it.

  61. MJB says: November 21, 2012 at 7:45 am

    If their data indicates a local warming trend, or decreasing snow cover, I would tend to believe it.
    —–
    You can plot a trend in all data, even white noise or red noise like the stock market. It doesn’t predict the future though.

  62. Ferd, measuring at the quantum level is one thing, at the ecosystem level is quite another. Measuring stream nutrients at the bottom of the watershed hardly will affect nutrient deposition and recycling on the upper slopes, for example. Hubbard Brook is carefully controlled to minimize the effects of measurements and other human intervention precisely to discover and quantify natural conditions. Some manipulations are conducted to see the effects they produce, but overall the goal is to disturb as little as possible. Check out the website at: http://www.hubbardbrook.org/

  63. From my counter-USGCRP document:

    Regional Climate Impacts: Northeast
    172
    The 2009 USGCRP report states that warming will adversely affect
    the maple syrup industry in the Northeast. In fact, the future may
    be even better for this sweet treat.
    Maple syrup is a sweetener made from the sap of sugar maple or black
    maple trees. In cold climates, trees store starch in their stems and roots
    before the winter, which is then converted to sugar, rising as sap in the spring,
    when the trees are tapped.
    Vermont is the biggest U.S. producer, with nearly a million gallons of syrup produced annually,
    and Maine produces about a third of that amount. While U.S. production of maple
    syrup is significant, Canada produces 80% of the world’s total, mainly in Quebec.
    Production occurs from February through April, depending on local weather conditions.
    Freezing nights and warm days are needed to induce sap flows. The change in temperature
    from below to above freezing causes water uptake from the soil, and also creates
    a stem pressure, that, along with gravity, causes sap to flow out of tapholes or other
    wounds in the stem or branches.
    Sap flow is therefore dependent upon weather conditions, and predicted changes in
    local and regional climate can be linked to the production of maple syrup, and according
    to the USGCRP, climate change will surely be bad for syrup production in the Northeast.
    Perhaps they cried wolf too soon. Christopher Skinner and two Cornell University colleagues
    found that the scientific literature was quite conflicted about the future state of
    maple syrup production, so they developed a computer model to relate high-resolution
    daily high and low temperatures and maple syrup.5
    They concluded that
    The major finding is that sap collectors will need to get busy earlier in the
    late winter and spring to adapt to the expected warming winters in the New
    England states. Through the twenty-first century, the optimal time to maximize
    sapflow days will advance to an earlier date in the year. By 2100 this change will
    be nearly 30 days.
    Further,
    Provided the change in the beginning of the sapflow window can be anticipated,
    the number of sapflow days will change very little through 2100 in the heart
    of the Northeast U.S. maple syrup production region. In fact, across Maine,
    the simulations show an increase in the number of sapflow days provided the
    8-week window is moved to early February.
    They concluded that a minor change in the schedule of sugaring operations will maintain
    current production levels throughout this century.

  64. Has anyone here bought maple syrup in the last couple decades? Inflation has driven them to cut back on the boiling down process. The stuff they’ve been pushing is more like tincture of maple sap than maple syrup.

  65. Who cares! Maple syrup is so expensive now that we can’t buy any. And besides, they have to burn so much propane to boil the water off that this industry should be considered a threat to the earth.

    /sarc

  66. AGW people have been claiming that sap flow will decrease and/or the sugar content would drop. I’ve been taping maple trees since the late 1970’s. I have actually seen an increase in production in the past few years. In addition, the sugar content has been above 2% and sometimes is high as 3%. Two years ago I produced probably the most and highest quality of maple syrup since I first tried my hand at it over 30 years ago.

    The single biggest factor for sap flow is to get warm days and cold nights in late winter/early spring. Last year wasn’t very good because the winter was mild and there wasn’t that daily warm/cold fluctuation. However two years ago it was excellent. Every day fluctuated from warm to cold and we got a bumper crop.

  67. “””””…..Ric Werme says:

    November 21, 2012 at 6:33 am

    george e. smith says:
    November 21, 2012 at 4:54 am

    Well I would be more worried about the effect on the trees, of the barbaric mutilation of them,for their sap.

    And all quite unnecessary. The midwest plains States can make all the high fructose corn syrup needed for everybody’s pancakes till the end of time; and a whole lot cheaper too.

    Heresy! My wife and I have brought real maple syrup to restaurants that don’t have it an suggested to B&B’s and restaurants that they could charge a little extra for maple syrup…..”””””

    Well I’m a lifelong Infidel, and near as I can discern, the only thing wrong with corn syrup, is it doesn’t come from Vermont.

    Starbucks brag that they don’t use corn syrup in their “organic foods” (means contains carbon).

    But you can find every plastic sugar substitute known to man at any Starbucks.

    People don’t buy buggy whips much anymore either. Who was the last famous person to die from corn syrup poisoning ?

  68. Ray says:
    November 21, 2012 at 11:53 am

    Who cares! Maple syrup is so expensive now that we can’t buy any. And besides, they have to burn so much propane to boil the water off that this industry should be considered a threat to the earth.

    There are also oil fired boilers and wood fired boilers that are often fired with scrap maple from cleaning up the sugar bush. And systems that use steam to preheat the fresh sap coming in.

    One thing that I haven’t seen but makes a lot of sense is to use reverse osmosis to get a lot of water out of the sap. Don’t know of any solar maple sugaring pans though. :-)

  69. “David L says:
    November 21, 2012 at 1:33 pm
    …Two years ago I produced probably the most and highest quality of maple syrup since I first tried my hand at it over 30 years ago…

    Yeah? Do you sell locally or perhaps some mailorder? If so, please post a link for us poor souls shopping in the south.

    I’m with Ric Werme, and likely many others here. I don’t buy the glop falsely implied as maple syrup but is relabeled corn syrup. I do buy corn syrup, but it sits on my shelves until I need it in a recipe and then it’s a tablespoon to a half cup. Nope, don’t drink much bottled sweet stuff either.

    As an Explorer Scout many years ago, we were camping in Vermont and the weather broke after a long frigid spell. The farmer whose land we were camping on appealed to us for help and our weeken campout became a two day marathon to collect buckets down/up hills to the tank on a truck. The farmer thanked us and told us we were welcome to camp in his maple bush any February…

    Nowadays, many sugar bushes are tubed to a collection tank, but not all. True Maple Syrup is wonderful and a little goes a very long way. Plus real maple syrup soaks into waffles and pancakes just right and sure doesn’t render them goopy sickeningly sweet.

    For that matter, I make my own vanilla extract too. A terrific one I made last year is based on cherry flavored vodka… Yum. No sugar needed, corn or otherwise.

  70. From kadaka (KD Knoebel): November 20, 2012 at 9:07 pm
    “People who live in tropics more likely to die seven years earlier” with an Australian reference.
    Classic case of reverse causation. In Australia, the people who go north to live (north = hotter) are nuts in the first place and predisposed to a short life. The ones who think, then stay south, are cosy next to much better medical facilities. What is more, southerners commonly believe that better science in medicine has great health advantages. In climate work, new science almost always predicts greater health disadvantages.

  71. Ric Werme says “Don’t know of any solar maple sugaring pans though. :-)”

    For consolation, I know of several reverse osmosis plants that are making purer water from dirty water, one in Victoria where the last 2 years have recorded the highest measured rainfall. Just match desalination plants to maple syrup production.

  72. atheok says:
    November 21, 2012 at 6:47 pm
    “David L says:
    November 21, 2012 at 1:33 pm
    …Two years ago I produced probably the most and highest quality of maple syrup since I first tried my hand at it over 30 years ago…

    Yeah? Do you sell locally or perhaps some mailorder? If so, please post a link for us poor souls shopping in the south.”

    It’s a hobby. I make several gallons for myself, family, and friends. I love the taste of 100% pure maple syrup but couldn’t afford the stuff. But I did have acres of maples and all the wood (and time) to boil the stuff down. Now we make it a neighborhood event with the kids. While boiling down we make sausages simmered in maple sap over the wood fire in cast iron skillets.. Wow is that good!

  73. How poor are you guys? You can pick up cheap maple syrup at Costco.

    WAY better than that corn syrup stuff.
    I used to harvest my own syrup in NE Ohio and appreciate the work that goes into it. The trees never complained.

    ps if you really think it is too expensive, look for some grade B dark amber. Cheaper, with more maple flavor.

  74. The deer populations in parts of Western Canada have also been increasing due to less hunting pressure. This is attributable in part due to the emotional Bambi effect, that pre-dated the fur seal hunt that Brigitte Bardot tried to end in the 70’s.

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