I wonder where the plants were during the Medieval Warm Period?

From the University of Arizona

IMAGE: The researchers assessed plants growing at different elevations in the same areas surveyed by botanists 50 years ago.

Warming climate pushes plants up the mountain 

Comparing plant communities today with a survey taken 50 years ago, University of Arizona-led research provides the first on-the-ground evidence for Southwestern plants being pushed to higher elevations by an increasingly warmer and drier climate

In a rare opportunity to directly compare plant communities in the same area now with a survey taken 50 years ago, a University of Arizona-led research team has provided the first on-the-ground evidence that Southwestern plants are being pushed to higher elevations by an increasingly warmer and drier climate.

The findings confirm that previous hypotheses are correct in their prediction that mountain communities in the Southwest will be strongly impacted by an increasingly warmer and drier climate, and that the area is already experiencing rapid vegetation change.

In a rare opportunity to obtian [sic] a “before – after” look, researchers studied current plant communities along the same transect already surveyed in 1963: the Catalina Highway, a road that winds all the way from low-lying desert to the top of Mount Lemmon, the tallest peak in the Santa Catalina Mountains northeast of Tucson.

“Our study provides the first on-the-ground proof of plants being forced significantly upslope due to climate warming in southern Arizona,” said Richard C. Brusca, a research scientist in the UA’s department of ecology and evolutionary biology who led the study together with Wendy Moore, an assistant professor in the UA’s department of entomology. “If climate continues to warm, as the climate models predict, the subalpine mixed conifer forests on the tops of the mountains – and the animals dependent upon them – could be pushed right off the top and disappear.”

IMAGE: Today, living alligator juniper first begin to make an appearance on upland slopes of the Catalina Mountains at around 5,000 feet elevation…

Click here for more information.

The study, published in the journal Ecology and Evolution, was made possible by the existence of a dataset compiled 50 years ago by Robert H. Whittaker, often referred to as the “father of modern plant ecology,” and his colleague, William Niering, who catalogued the plants they encountered along the Catalina Highway.

Focusing on the 27 most abundantly catalogued plant species, Brusca and Moore discovered that three quarters of them have shifted their range significantly upslope, in some cases as much as a thousand feet, or now grow in a narrower elevation range compared to where Whittaker and Niering found them in 1963.

Specifically, Moore and her team found that the lowermost boundaries for 15 of the species studied have moved upslope; eight of those species now first appear more than 800 feet higher than where Whittaker and Niering first encountered them. Sixteen of the studied species are now restricted to a narrower band of elevation, the researchers noticed. As far as the plants’ upper elevation limits were concerned, the researchers observed a mixed trend: They found it to be higher for four species, lower for eight species and unchanged for 15.

For example, in 1963 Whittaker and Niering recorded alligator juniper as a component of upland desert and grassland communities in the Catalina Mountains, beginning at an elevation of just 3,500 feet. Today, one has to drive to the 5,000-foot elevation marker on the Catalina Highway to see the first live alligator juniper trees in upland habitats.

According to the authors, the main point emerging from the study is that plant communities on the mountain were different 50 years ago because plant species do not necessarily move toward higher elevations as a community. Rather, individual species shift their ranges independently, leading to a reshuffling of plant communities.

The scientists in this multidisciplinary group gathered the data during fieldwork in 2011, and included UA postdoctoral fellows and professors from several programs, including the UA departments of entomology and ecology and evolutionary biology, the Center for Insect Science and the Institute for the Environment, as well as botanists from the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum.

IMAGE: …However, below 5,000 feet, hundreds of dead juniper attest to a former range much lower down on the mountain, reflecting cooler and wetter years of the past.

Click here for more information.

Based on studies done by other scientists, including UA researchers, the researchers believe that a “thirstier” atmosphere might be a major driver behind the shifts in plant distribution, possibly even more so than lack of precipitation. As the atmosphere becomes warmer and drier, plants loose more water through their leave openings and become water-stressed.

According to the authors, the results are consistent with a trend scientists have established for the end of the Pleistocene, a period of repeated glaciations that ended about 12,000 years ago. By studying the distribution of plant seeds and parts preserved in ancient packrat middens, for example, paleo-ecologists have documented that as the climate warmed up, plant communities changed profoundly.

“In southern Arizona, some species moved north to the Colorado Plateau, others moved up mountain slopes, and others didn’t move at all,” said Moore, who has been collecting data on ground-dwelling arthropods, plants, leaf litter, weather, soil, and other ecological factors in the Santa Catalina Mountains for the Arizona Sky Island Arthropod Project based in her lab.

###

The Sky Islands encompass an “archipelago” of 65 isolated mountain ranges rising from the surrounding low-elevation desert and desert grassland in an area that constitutes the only major gap in the 4,500-mile long North American Cordillera, which runs from northern Alaska to southern Mexico. The Sky Islands, often referred to as the “Madrean Sky Islands,” span this gap in southeastern Arizona, southwestern New Mexico and northeastern Sonora, Mexico. They include the Santa Catalina Mountains, the Pinal Mountains and the Chiricahua Mountains.

Research publication: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ece3.720/abstract

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85 thoughts on “I wonder where the plants were during the Medieval Warm Period?

  1. Plants everywhere move according to local conditions, so they’d have been at higher elevation and latitude when the MWP rolled around, then back down and south if it got cold there during the LIA.

    This article seems to be one of those important but boring articles where the researchers did field work and discovered exactly what was predicted by the theory.

  2. So, they have never seen shifts in plant distribution on the plains? Forests and meadows appear and disappear in a man’s lifetime? It must be shocking to see that happen on the slopes. Everything must remain where it once was, right?

  3. Climate is not the only thing which changed.

    Fire History in Madrean Sky Islands
    Pine forests of the Southwestern United States were characterized historically by high-frequency low-severity surface fire events evident in the tree-ring record. Twentieth century fire suppression has disrupted these fire regimes in US forests leading to recent unprecedented fire severity and behavior across the Western US. …

  4. The lapse rate for dry air at a 1000 foot Δ is 3°C or over 300% of the alleged global warming. Seems like a poor attempt to tie flora movement to the CO2 Thermageddon®.

  5. Its an interesting article, but what do the records of rainfall show for the region? And temperature? Is it really warmer and dryer now than in the past?

  6. So. . .just exactly how much has the air in the Catalina Mountains at 5000 feet warmed and dried out since 1963? Is there less precipitation there now than in 1963?

    Or is this just plant regrowth due to something like an earlier range fire?

  7. Do these people believe this is the first time this sort of thing has happened? In my recent article I noted the following concerning plant life;

    http://judithcurry.com/2013/06/26/noticeable-climate-change/

    Appendix One-­supplementary information concerning the temperature humps noted around 1540 and commencing 1610/15

    *In his 1625‘ideal garden sketch’ essay Francis Bacon wrote of the plants that could be grown in their season in the climate of London (then a small city of only 450,000 people)

    “Latter Part of November, you must take such Things, as are Greene all Winter; Holly;
    Ivy; Bayes; Juniper; Cipresse Trees; Eugh; Pine-Apple-Trees; Firre-Trees; Rose-Mary;
    Lavander; Periwinckle, the White, the Purple, and the Blewe; Germander; Flagges;
    Orenge-Trees; Limon-Trees; And Mirtles, if they be stooved; & Sweet Marjoram warme
    set. There followeth, for the latter Part of January, and February, the Mezerion Tree,
    which then blossomes; Crocus Vernus, both the Yellow, and the Gray; Prime-Roses;
    Anemones; The Early Tulippa; Hiacynthus Orientalis; Chamaïris; Frettellaria. For March,
    There come Violets, specially the Single Blew, which are the Earliest; The Yellow
    Daffadill; The Dazie; The Almond.”

    http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Of_Gardens/Of_Gardens

    The similarity of seasons around 1625 is striking when compared to the modern
    warm period in the UK. (that ended in 2000- Temperatures are now substantially cooler)

    *More scientific confirmation of growing warmth is confirmed by Professor Dr C.
    Pfister the noted historian and geographer who identified Heat waves in 1525 and 1616 ( roughly
    comparable or greater than Europe 2003)

    *The compilation book ‘Climate since AD 1500’ edited by Phil Jones and incorporating work by
    a number of scientists, notes the warm periods around 1630 and 1550 and the cold interval that
    separated them;

    *In their summary in Chapter 33 of their book ‘Climatic variations over the last 500
    years’ P D Jones and R S Bradley in talking of regional evidence for Europe note; ‘from
    the evidence presented –in the book- the climate since 1500 has varied between
    extremely warm and extremely cool decades
    tonyb

  8. With a lapse rate of 3 deg F per 1000 feet, and a global warming of perhaps 1 deg F since 1950, one would think vegetation might have moved up 330 feet. Plants that have moved from 3500 feet to 5000 feet must be anticipating the IPCC predictions of 5 degrees or more — or something else is the cause.

  9. However, below 5,000 feet, hundreds of dead juniper attest to a former range much lower down on the mountain, reflecting cooler and wetter years of the past.
    ====
    uh guys, that’s a picture of a tree that died of Juniper blight….a fungal disease

    • So, too, I can show you hundreds of dead junipers at 600 feet ASL. When I was young, I saw the later stages of their extinction, and it puzzled me a lot. I did not know of juniper blight; now I can’t recall any gross symptoms of any disease. They just dried up everywhere in the area. Their former range is now overgrown by deciduous forests, but their trunks can still be found on the ground (they rot slowly). Barring an invisible root disease, I think they were simply outcompeted by faster-growing trees. That happened while the media were still yakking about global cooling, but the (southward) colonisation of the erstwhile prairie by forests in that area continues at about the same rate now as it did in 1960s.

  10. Might CO2 fertilization allow certain plants to live at higher elevations? Thinner air at altitude means less CO2 and this might starve certain species. More CO2 in the air means more CO2 available even when the air is thinner.

    (And I realize I’m being pedantic and off-topic here, but the title asks whether or not the writer wonders. Probably true, but shouldn’t the writer just tell us by using a period at the end of the sentence instead of a question mark?)

  11. We have a nice little suburban reservation nearby called Elm Bank. Only problem is, the elms are almost all dead and gone now. Climate Change!! No wait — it was Dutch Elm Disease.

    Never mind.

  12. This study is based on one point – 1963 – and changes in the 50 years since then. Climate is cyclical so more than one point is necessary to draw conclusions. For example, the changes could have been underway in 1963.

  13. I wonder how far they walked from the road. Do some seeds get transported uphill by road traffic?

    Then there’s the data. The abstract cites overlapping data sets. A 62 year temperature record from 1949 to 2011, a recent 20 year rainfall record, and a transect taken 50 years ago.

    Nexxxt.

  14. juniper blight; now I can’t recall any gross symptoms of any disease. They just dried up everywhere in the area.
    ====
    Gene you just described the symptoms of juniper blight…..exactly

  15. The Arts of Truth strike again. This paper should not have been published without a major qualification to its supposed baseline. The dead giveaway (pun intended) is the dead spruce image below 5000 feet. Enlarge and look carefully, then read on.

    The so-called Catalina Highway is 27 mile long Arizona Forest Highway 39 in the Coronado National Forest northwest of Tucson. The USDA FS provides a wealth of information, including the road’s amazing amazing biodiversity ‘ranging from Mexico (sonoran desert floor) to Canada (snowy Mount Lemmon peak)’. It is one of the most scenic byways in the American southwest, and also the only access to Summerhaven, zip code 85619.
    Summerhaven’s website describes it as ” a quaint town of shops and restaurants rebounding from the ashes of the 2003 Aspen Wildfire.”
    The Aspen wildfire burned from June 17 to July 12, 2003, immolating 132.4 square miles including most of the terrain through which AFH 39 runs, and all of Winterhaven.
    The dead juniper was killed by the forest fire as can be seen from the fire scarred trunk, and the landscape behind it is slowly recovering during the past decade of general above average dryness in the Southwest. NOTHING to do with lomger term climate change.
    This paper is worse nonsense than the 2013 North Pole Lake. It is worse peer review than upside down Tijlander or agriculturally contaminated Igaliku. It is blantantly deceptive, and should be retracted.

  16. Of course, it is this line from the article which will be remembered by the general public if they read it: “If climate continues to warm, as the climate models predict, the subalpine mixed conifer forests on the tops of the mountains – and the animals dependent upon them – could be pushed right off the top and disappear.”

  17. So….Over the course of 50 years all the plants have adapted to whatever new environment they found themselves in. Therefore the recurring theme of the warmies that because CO2 has warmed, and will warm us so quickly that nothing will adapt in time (hence thermageddon) is proven by this study to be a non starter. Why do they keep disproving their own theories? Can’t they leave anything for us?

  18. I find great humor in people and especially so called scientist who seem to view the world in the confines of their own life span. What was it? 15,000 to 20,000 years ago, there were no forests or grizzly bears in Montana… because it was under an ice sheet!!!

  19. There is FAR more evidence of artificial spread of plants than climate change spread of plants. Heck, at our Oregon state borders, one must clean off any boat you bring into the state AND get a permit to bring in that boat, clean or not. And I mean clean it thoroughly. Why? To prevent the spread of non-native flora and fauna. Same goes for Wallowa County in Oregon. Can’t bring in hay from outside the county. Why? To prevent the spread of non-native flora and fauna.

    The conclusions of the present study cannot be supported and should be retracted. First rule out the most common causes of flora creep. Climate change is way down the list.

  20. I had a nice trip to the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest last year and yep, sure enough the trees that grew up during the Roman Climate Optimum were …..

    …. wait for it …….

    …… further up the hill.

    Whooo hooooo, we’re all going to die.

  21. There are so many other things to consider than a few tenths of a degree change in air temperature.

    A change in the regime of grazers. Cattle, sheep, goats will graze or browse on different plants and grasses. What was this area like pre-settlers? From memory of undergrad and grad Rangeland Management I’m thinking primarily grasslands interspersed with a few trees (<5/acre, or was it hectare?) that could manage to get a leg up above the aforementioned, now suppressed, high frequency-low intensity fires and displaced/replaced/added grazing/browsing regime. Juniper is volatile with its high concentration of turpenes and other flammable waxes and oil. It's relatively low and prostrate growth habit makes it susceptible to fire as well. Therefore it is suppressed by fire.

    Additionally, how far uphill are the seeds of these (as the author depicts them) ambulatory trees dispersed by wind? +800' in elevation?! That's a heck of a wind dispersion. I'd look to grazers picking up the seeds in their wool, mohair, or hair and redepositing them. Or if goats, birds, or sheep are picking at juniper berries and depositing the seeds undigested in their manure. With fire suppression, and an increase in brush and trees, one could also expect to see an increase in species of birds that would nest in such habitat. These same birds could also be foraging and dispersing the seeds of the species which ambulated uphill.

    I did not see a mention of which face of a slope they were on, nor if they moved from a south slope to the NE or NW, SE or SW. That can certainly make a difference as well with prevailing winds and sunshine desiccating hours.

  22. JimS! You owe me a new computer! Coffee and keyboards DO NOT MIX! “…pushed off the top”!!! ROTFLMAO!!! That quote from a peer reviewed paper is on the same level of intelligence as islands that tip over.

  23. My guess is that CO2 fertilization is the cause – making the junipers more robust on the higher slopes, but less competitive with other plants that benefit even more from the added CO2 at lower elevations. Since added CO2 reduces moisture loss, it also reduces the heat lost through transpiration (i.e.., required to evaporate the water), making the plants more cold tolerant as well as more drought tolerant.

  24. I suppose it has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that there were lakes and ponds in southern Arizona 75 years ago, and I don’t mean the cement pond variety. While you’re at it you might take [note] of those documented and surveyed deep cracks in the basins from ground water retreat. Those are well known changes.

  25. I have no reason to be skeptical about plants moving up and down the sides of mountains due to changes in climate. I would expect they’ve been doing this since the beginning of plants.

    There is nothing new here, but to alarmists out there its like manna from heaven.

  26. …a University of Arizona-led research team has provided the first on-the-ground evidence that Southwestern plants are being pushed to higher elevations by an increasingly warmer and drier climate….

    As the atmosphere becomes warmer and drier, plants loose more water through their leave openings and become water-stressed.

    I thought global warming meant more water vapour. I thought more co2 in the atmosphere made plants more drought resistant. Arrrrrggghhhh! Well, I’d better get back to some quick online learning I guess.

  27. @Pamela Gray:

    “JimS! You owe me a new computer! Coffee and keyboards DO NOT MIX! “…pushed off the top”!!! ROTFLMAO!!! That quote from a peer reviewed paper is on the same level of intelligence as islands that tip over.”
    I chuckled some at that quite too. I guess it was put in there to attract the reader’s attention to read on. And I agree, it is on the same level as “islands that tip over,” and another one: “The solution to preventing our coastal cities from flooding due to climate change is simply dregging their harbours.”

  28. 15 [of 27] of the species studied have moved upslope
    Did any move downslope?

    eight of those species now first appear more than 800 feet higher than where Whittaker and Niering first encountered them.
    And what was the largest move downslope?

    [16 of 27] of the studied species are now restricted to a narrower band of elevation,
    That would be the 15 that moved their lower bounds higher, and 1 that moved its upper bound lower by more than the lower bound moved? It is not an independent statistic.

    As far as the plants’ upper elevation limits were concerned, the researchers observed a mixed trend: They found it to be higher for four species, lower for eight species and unchanged for 15.
    No statistically significant change.

    Focusing on the 27 most abundantly catalogued plant species.
    The 27 most abundant in 1963. Are these the most abundant today?
    What about changes in abundance?
    What about changes in “Land Use”. The term is not in the abstract.

  29. I am not sure that I can follow their reasoning. They have a map of plant location along a highway that climbs a mountain. The map was created fifty years ago. They walk the highway, create a new map, and compare the two maps. The results of the comparison are:

    “Focusing on the 27 most abundantly catalogued plant species, Brusca and Moore discovered that three quarters of them have shifted their range significantly upslope, in some cases as much as a thousand feet, or now grow in a narrower elevation range compared to where Whittaker and Niering found them in 1963.”

    OK, but where are the plants? Are we really talking about a survey of plants near the road? Apparently, we are:

    “In a rare opportunity to obtian [sic] a “before – after” look, researchers studied current plant communities along the same transect already surveyed in 1963: the Catalina Highway, a road that winds all the way from low-lying desert to the top of Mount Lemmon, the tallest peak in the Santa Catalina Mountains northeast of Tucson.”

    For what reason did the researchers select this area along the road for their research? Because of the old map? That might be a good reason for creating a travelogue or musing on the contributions of the eminent scientist, Robert Whittaker, who created the original map, but why would anyone trained in science believe that the area is not simply peculiar and incapable of serving as the basis for scientific research?

    The researchers conclude that a warming climate (might have) caused the change:

    “Based on studies done by other scientists, including UA researchers, the researchers believe that a “thirstier” atmosphere might be a major driver behind the shifts in plant distribution, possibly even more so than lack of precipitation. As the atmosphere becomes warmer and drier, plants loose more water through their leave openings and become water-stressed.”

    The next question that must be addressed is whether the climate in this area is warmer and drier. I do not see that they did empirical research on this matter. After that question, there comes the question whether any other change might explain the plant migration. I do not see that they did empirical research on this matter. Their imagination for empirical research seems to be wearing blinders. All they did is find a change in plant distribution at a questionable site that is consistent with their hypothesis of a warming climate. Unfortunately, it is also consistent with any of a thousand different explanations, the most obvious being that the road up the mountain is very popular. Why this sort of thing gets called science escapes me completely.

  30. Wasn’t there an equally lame ‘study’ done in Spain a couple of years back? Wasn’t the resolution in the handful of meters? Like, I mean, who cares?

  31. @Chad Wozniak 9:55 am
    My guess is that CO2 fertilization is the cause – making the junipers more robust on the higher slopes, but less competitive with other plants that benefit even more from the added CO2 at lower elevations.
    Competitive pressures. Very astute. Seeing the changes in the distributions of plants would be essential, but was that data collected in 1963, or was it just the collection of the outlier lowest and highest occurance?

  32. I wonder where the plants were during the Medieval Warm Period?

    I don’t know about the Santa Catalina Mountains but here is Europe and Greenland according to Dr. Michael Mann.

    Medieval Climatic Optimum
    Michael E Mann – University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA, USA

    It is evident that Europe experienced, on the whole, relatively mild climate conditions during the earliest centuries of the second millennium (i.e., the early Medieval period). Agriculture was possible at higher latitudes (and higher elevations in the mountains) than is currently possible in many regions, and there are numerous anecdotal reports of especially bountiful harvests (e.g., documented yields of grain) throughout Europe during this interval of time. Grapes were grown in England several hundred kilometers north of their current limits of growth, and subtropical flora such as fig trees and olive trees grew in regions of Europe (northern Italy and parts of Germany) well north of their current range. Geological evidence indicates that mountain glaciers throughout Europe retreated substantially at this time, relative to the glacial advances of later centuries (Grove and Switsur, 1994). A host of historical documentary proxy information such as records of frost dates, freezing of water bodies, duration of snowcover, and phenological evidence (e.g., the dates of flowering of plants) indicates that severe winters were less frequent and less extreme at times during the period from about 900 – 1300 AD in central Europe……………………

    Some of the most dramatic evidence for Medieval warmth has been argued to come from Iceland and Greenland (see Ogilvie, 1991). In Greenland, the Norse settlers, arriving around AD 1000, maintained a settlement, raising dairy cattle and sheep. Greenland existed, in effect, as a thriving European colony for several centuries. While a deteriorating climate and the onset of the Little Ice Age are broadly blamed for the demise of these settlements around AD 1400,

    http://www.meteo.psu.edu/holocene/public_html/shared/articles/medclimopt.pdf

  33. Simply reverse the first two letters of altitude and you have latitude. Going up the side of a mountain is similar to going toward the poles. Von Humboldt recognized this in the mid-nineteenth century with his climate zones going up the mountainsides in South America.

    I published a chapter in the book “Climate Since 1500 AD.” edited by Bradley and Jones. It led to my only CRU leaked email reference by Jones who said I was doing good work then and he couldn’t understand why or where I went wrong. Although I only referenced the article in my chapter, a part of my research involved assessing the movement of the tree line in central Canada by using an accurate map produced by Samuel Hearne. He was a well qualified biologist and botanist using Latin names for species. His studies of the Arctic Fox are still considered the best available. He also contributed a considerable amount of material used by Thomas Pennant in his 1784 book “Arctic Zoology”.

    “Historical Evidence and Climatic Implications of a Shift in the Boreal Forest Tundra Transition in Central Canada”, Climatic Change 1986, Vol. 7, pp. 218-229

    Hearne commented on the evidence that the “tree limit”as he called it, had retreated considerably, which he accurately attributed to cooling. He didn’t know about the decline from the Mediaeval Warm Period (MWP) to the Little ice Age but saw evidence of the cooling. I compared his tree limit with one created in 1972 and found that on average it had moved 200km in approximately 200 years. This is a remarkable 1 km per year in one of the harshest climate regions in the world. Even if the move was half that amount it would still be very remarkable.

    As I discovered it was attacked because of the alarmist claim, created by the impact studies of Working Group II of the IPCC, that the change we were causing with our CO2 was too rapid for nature to adapt. This thinking is rooted in the dominance of uniformitarianism in western science. This holds that change is very gradual over long periods of time.

    We have seen this argument presented in a different and veiled form in the article Anthony posted here;

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/08/01/claim-climate-change-is-10x-faster-than-ever-before/

    I am familiar with the tree line in Canada from my research but also from five years of flying search and rescue in northern and arctic regions. The tree line is a remarkably distinct line, especially in central Canada. True, the trees diminish in size, but it is still a very visible boundary. The only boundary I have seen so clearly delineated on such a scale is the clearly defined, by colour and transparency of the water between the cold water of the Labrador Current and the warm water of the North Atlantic Drift (Gulf Stream). I saw this countless times while flying anti submarine patrols over the North Atlantic.

    Adaptation to change in nature is far greater than current thinking, especially alarmist AGW thinking allows. I have also studied and written often about the natural fluctuations in animal populations. I wrote about these in these articles

    http://drtimball.com/2011/83-percent-of-all-statistics-are-made-up-on-the-spot/

    http://drtimball.com/2011/tipping-points-are-natural-environmentalists-exploit-them/

    They reference the work of Charles Elton who published in the 1930s and 40s and is reputedly the first to use the word ecology.

    The other area of climate studies that speaks to these changes in vegetation and is virtually ignored, likely because its a threat to uniformitarianism, is Palynology. It records the changes in vegetation over time and it is clearly time to revisit what it shows about the dynamics of change.

    All of these remarks are further evidence of my claim that the IPCC set climatology back 30 years.

  34. klem is quite rigth saying: “I have no reason to be skeptical about plants moving up and down the sides of mountains due to changes in climate.”

    This has been observed in many parts of the world for instance in the Swedish Scandes. Professor Leif Kullman has studied the changes for 40 years and written many articles on the subject. The treeline has advanced more than 100 m uphill during recent decades.

    In one of his articles, Alpine flora dynamics – a critical review of responses to climate change in the Swedish Scandes since the early 1950s. Nordic Journal of Botany 28, 398-408, he writes: “The key finding is that the species pool has increased by 60–170% since the 1950s and later.”

    Abstract can be read here: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1756-1051.2010.00812.x/abstract

  35. Local plant migration proves nothing about any human influence on climate. It simply proves what we have known all along, i.e. that growing conditions vary somewhat with NATURAL variation in climate.

    The whole AGW hoax has been successful in part because too many of us now live our lives indoors in hermetically sealed urban environments. We simply don’t get enough opportunity to observe the natural world for ourselves and to develop a common sense view.

  36. In New England there are signs it was warmer in the past, and that species retreated south, (or advanced south,) during the Little Ice Age, which was in full swing when the Puritans arrived and kept the first records we have to this day.

    The range of sugar maples retreated to the north in the MWP, and though Puritans transplanted it south when they arrived in the Little Ice Age the Indians in southern New England sneered at “sugar-eaters,” while those to the north relished maple sugar. (The southern clans wouldn’t touch cane sugar, which the English had hoped to use as a trade item.)

    I once found a small enclave of plants usually seen to the south of New Hampshire by a pond tucked into a sunny bay on the south side of a hill: Catbriar and Sassafras and so forth. It was a small quarter-acre area that looked like Cape Cod, up in the cold mountains. I imagine it was survivors from a warmer time, hanging on and hoping the warmth would return.

  37. So from comments I see tree diseases, rain, fire management issues, co2 fertilization, co2 drought resistance, invasive species, Arizona cooling, etc. The report said:

    “…..the researchers observed a mixed trend: They found it to be higher for four species, lower for eight species and unchanged for 15……”

    What did this study actually tell us??? Maybe the researchers were suffering from the ‘Decline Effect’.

    The New Yorker – December 13, 2010
    “…The problem of selective reporting is rooted in a fundamental cognitive flaw, which is that we like proving ourselves right and hate being wrong. “It feels good to validate a hypothesis,” Ioannidis said. “It feels even better when you’ve got a financial interest in the idea or your career depends upon it….”
    [Page 4]

  38. The solution is for planners to mandate fewer parking places and parking lots than there are cars.

  39. A year ago I walked the Glorieta Pass Battlefield trail in New Mexico. Various old photo showed a landscape free of present day trees were canons had long lines of sight in 1862. Today that trail area is covered with trees. More use of old photos should be made in local climate change and plant diversity studies. The area I refer to he is located on I-25 exact of Santa Fe. The exit at 307 gives access to Pecos, the battlefield, and the Pecos Pueblo ruins.

  40. Jim you have got to be kidding! What half-brain thinks that dredging harbors would lower ocean sea levels????

  41. In Roman times it was easy to move Elephants across the Alps when the passes were not snow blocked. Climate change predates industrial CO2 emissions. A study of the know history should be a prerequisite to predictions about future climate. man adapts, and the plants and animals do too,

  42. I was born and raised on a cattle ranch right in the heart of the sky islands near the Santa Ritas. Our ranch elevation was between 3500 and 5000 feet. Re routing cleared juniper from the land as it made cattle sick. Fifty years ago the cattle Industry was in its infancy. We had open range access to large portions of state and federal lands. As the area became more populated we had grazing rights reduced and therefore “managed” what grass we had more diligently. In other words we got rid of all the junipers.

    http://farmprogress.com/story-cows-eating-juniper-risk-loss-calves-9-93766

  43. Just reading the above comments, it looks like “climate change” is the last thing the authors should be looking at as the cause of the vegetation shirt.

  44. Due present day higher levels of CO2 effect plant growth at higher elevation ? Isn’t more vegetation at higher altitude a good thing ?

  45. “As far as the plants’ upper elevation limits were concerned, the researchers observed a mixed trend: They found it to be higher for four species, lower for eight species and unchanged for 15.”

    1) So were talking only 4 of the plant species walked up higher than their previous range out of 26. Why would 8 walk down from their higher range into worsening conditions. With such an imprecise type of population isn’t this within standard deviation? Maybe the earlier survey was 20 feet farther over?
    2) a rise of 100m is equivalent to a drop in 0.64C on average (temp rise was smaller than that since 1963).
    3) Moving upward in latitude 100 km would drop the temp about the same (likewise undoing the climate change.
    4) A better survey: examine north and south facing slopes for corroboration of the affect of metrics. Check out other hills in the vicinity to get standard deviation data. Do the survey 90 to 100 km north of this site. Evaluate what has changed since 1963 – paving the road? a grass fire in 1975? 10 fold increase in traffic? Deer like the plants that went up the hill so dramatically?

    No, if they hadn’t found some change they could worry everybody about, they would have done these other things. Maybe we should fund a Steve McIntyre expedition to check the data.

  46. Is a Bristlecone a treemometer or is it a treehygrometer? Similarly, is a given succession a manifestation of temperature change or a shift in orographic yield (e.g. due to more or less incident moisture). Here is a paradox. The hotter the Western Desert, the more the uplift and the more the Monsoon gets pulled in. Same applies in Asia. Conversely the colder the desert, the the drier and the “orographic” islands retreat further uphill.

  47. I love this: “Our study provides the first on-the-ground proof of plants being forced significantly upslope due to climate warming in southern Arizona,”

    The poor plants do not just migrate voluntarily upslope, no, they are “forced”.

  48. In California’s Sierra Nevada mountains during the MWP (roughly 1000-1200CE), tree lines were 300-500 meters (~1000-1500 ft) higher than at present. This implies summer temperatures over 3C higher than at present. And the instrumental record shows no trend at all in Sierra temperatures for the 20th century.

  49. @Pamela Gray:
    “Jim you have got to be kidding! What half-brain thinks that dredging harbors would lower ocean sea levels????”
    Jims says: Quite frankly, I haven’t found them yet. But, today I came across a half wit who thinks that trees are going to be pushed off the top of mountains and disappear due to climate change. So I am sure I will come across them soon enough when a read a few more CAGW articles.
    Jim Hansen said that our oceans are going to boil away from the effects of climate change, and he was a NASA scientist at the time when he said this. So anything is possible, since it is quite apparent that one can be a scientist and be a half wit at the same time.

  50. Chris Schoneveld says:
    August 15, 2013 at 12:35 pm
    I love this: “Our study provides the first on-the-ground proof of plants being forced significantly upslope due to climate warming in southern Arizona,”
    The poor plants do not just migrate voluntarily upslope, no, they are “forced”.

    Chris,
    Moore’s et.al. repeated use of emotive lexicology struck me as well! Following their ‘emotional logic’, I suggest we just march up to 5000 feet and tell those damn triffid-like junipers to get the hell back down the slope or we’ll turn their sorry root stocks into firewood and charcoal! That should get them jumpin’ junipers moving back down slope in short order…… because we sure wouldn’t want them to get “pushed right off the top and disappear.”
    MtK

  51. Latitude says:
    August 15, 2013 at 9:12 am

    However, below 5,000 feet, hundreds of dead juniper attest to a former range much lower down on the mountain, reflecting cooler and wetter years of the past.
    ====
    uh guys, that’s a picture of a tree that died of Juniper blight….a fungal disease

    Oh, Latitude, a stupid thought came to my mind reading this: was there not a case where species of frogs where thought to die due to global warming?
    Something like this:

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/10/081028184830.htm

    And in the end it was found out that the researchers were spreading a fungus and contaminating frogs all over?
    Could it be that somehow fungal diseases were spread in the region?

    As CO2 enrichment makes plants more resistant to droughts I have a bit of a problem digesting the narative. There is no data showing how much the temperature changed, how drier it became?

  52. “Moving upward in latitude 100 km would drop the temp about the same …. .” [Pearse at 11:34AM]

    Ah, good point, but, then the trees could not be “forced” off the top! lol

    They THOUGHT of doing a little “research” along the southern side of the Grand Canyon, but people know too much about those sturdy little burros and would never believe a TREE could fall off, but, on the top of a mountain, IT JUST MIGHT HAPPEN. {O.O}

  53. ***
    Caleb says:
    August 15, 2013 at 10:56 am

    The range of sugar maples retreated to the north in the MWP, and though Puritans transplanted it south when they arrived in the Little Ice Age the Indians in southern New England sneered at “sugar-eaters,” while those to the north relished maple sugar.
    ***

    Where I’m at in west MD, sugar maples are invading southeastward into the existing oak/hickory forests, locally here at lower elevations & encroaching into the adjacent uphill areas.

  54. Lars P: As CO2 enrichment makes plants more resistant to droughts I have a bit of a problem digesting the narative. There is no data showing how much the temperature changed, how drier it became?
    =======
    Unfortunately there is….they start out assuming temps have increased in Arizona…then go looking for an effect
    You can’t get temp increase in Arizona without changing the temp history…and creating a whole new temp record…drought graphs for Arizona are flat…no change

    http://stevengoddard.wordpress.com/2013/04/07/raising-arizona-3/

  55. jbird says:
    August 15, 2013 at 10:55 am

    The whole AGW hoax has been successful in part because too many of us now live our lives indoors in hermetically sealed urban environments. We simply don’t get enough opportunity to observe the natural world for ourselves and to develop a common sense view.
    ________________________________
    Recently i have started to suspect that this very situation, the predominance of western and increasingly ROW citizens living in what are almost completely isolated from the real out there Nature in near hermetically sealed, deep urban environments is rapidly leading a very substantial corruption of environmental research by the long time urban dwelling, university educated researchers,
    With no experience worth counting of real time Nature during their previous life, they now harbor personal views of the natural world and the way in which the incredible array of all the elements that make up that ever changing, ever interacting and evolving and adapting natural environment as a sanitised chimera of Nature that only exists in their imagination.
    And thats how they start their time as researchers and political policy wonks when they reach the stage of being included in the decision making circles.

    There is now a huge disconnect becoming apparent in research and policy making highlighted by the real time experiences of the often quite rapid Natural changes to local environments as seen and experienced by so many posters above [ as is also the case with this rural dwelling retired farmer,] between what happens in real time Nature and the real world compared to the glorified and highly sanitized view of Nature by seen by urban dwellers and even more so by the highly paid inner city elite who today are the most likely to take up some sort of environmental studies or get involved in policy making.
    Some of them cannot and / or will not ever abandon this corrupted, sanitised urbanised chimera of Nature and their research and any policies arising from that research will consequently be not only seriously bad but both highly misleading and consequently worthless and even quite harmful to both Nature and to the rural dwellers, rural industries and workers.

    The fact that over half the world’s population now live in cities of over a hundred thousand or more in population spells some quite serious problems ahead for the rural industries and dwellers and for research and policy making in so many fields where the environment is involved even if only peripherally.
    The corrupted view of what is supposedly natural and the way in which the ever proliferating restrictions on food production and energy and mining technologies by the urbanised elite and their sanitised view of the world outside of their own tiny completely artificial environment will quite conceivably have drastic consequences for global food, energy and commodity production and for those still living in a non urban, rural environment in the decades ahead..

  56. Warming climate pushes plants up the mountain… Alternate headline..”No longer CO2 starved, plants able to survive at higher elevations.” It takes quite a bit of work to make that into something negative.

  57. INCREASED CO2 EXTENDS PLANT RANGES

    Aren’t we forgetting that increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere enables plants to extend their ranges into areas that were once unsuitable? How much of this expansion into higher altitudes is simply due to higher levels of CO2 — not global warming?

    This seems something of utmost importance — that the author’s have missed.

    Increasing an important fundamental plant nutrient would have a far greater effect than a small increase in atmospheric temperature.

    Actually this is testable. Two green houses set side by side. Set the conditions of the green houses at a level where the chosen plant is barely surviving. Increase CO2 in one and temperature in the other. Under which circumstance will the plant best flourish?

    Eugene WR Gallun

  58. Latitude 9:12 am says

    Uh guys, that’s a picture of a tree that died of Juniper Blight … a fungal disease

    Tears in my eyes from laughing!

    Eugene WR Gallun

  59. Eugene WR Gallun

    JUNIPER BLIGHT MOST DEVASTATING DURING WET CONDITIONS.

    Authors state that Junipers thrived during an earlier wetter period. Just learned Juniper Blight is most devastating during wet conditions. So the conditions that the authors claim lead Junipers to thrive were quite possibly the conditions that actually brought about their demise.

    Eugene WR Gallun

  60. Thanks, Tim Ball @
    August 15, 2013 at 10:39 am

    I agree that this line of research is important to climatology. People in their haste to denigrate “treemometers” should think about what trees have to show us. In Colorado backpacks, I’ve seen the dead, white trunks of enormous bristlecone giants strewn about the scree slopes and boulder fields several hundred feet above the timberline of present-day bristlecone pine. This is a tree that is so slow-growing and dense (its rings can be fractions of a millimeter apart) that it takes a dead tree hundreds of years to decay at altitudes of 13,000 feet. With nothing but rocks in between these behemoths and existing treeline, I can only conclude that several hundred years ago, clement weather gave them an advantage, and they took the opportunity, as all species will, to move into a new niche. These are relict species of the Medieval (or perhaps some more recent) Warm Period.

    Obviously this kind of species movement and adaptation is anything but new, as warm and cold periods come and go across the globe..

    HH Lamb noted in his book “Climate History and The Modern World” that

    Historical reports (e.g., Livy) tell us of at least a few severe winters in Rome in those times, when the River Tiber froze and snow lay for many days, and that beech trees grew there around 300 BC, whereas by the time of Pliny in the first century AD the climate seemed to be too warm for them: the beech was regarded by the Romans in Pliny’s day as a mountain tree.

  61. I’m glad to see that trees are now figuring out they should migrate upward. It was pretty bad watching them all moving north. At first the US side of the border were trying to keep them from leaving for Canada, then the Canadian side was trying to keep them out since we’re full. But they just crossed anyway.

    I mean really, after watching a few million trees moving north across the prairies you just tire of the whole thing. I can’t even describe some of the highway traffic jams at the tree-crossing points, especially on the east-west highways. Sometimes it would take hours for a forest to pass by, there were so many trees. There were so many you could hardly even see the forest!

    Now, as we all know, the ones that were forced to move north are pretty much stacked up at the edges of the Arctic Ocean, staring out at the lukewarm ice-free water. They seem to yearn to go farther north, but there is no way. The surviving polar bears won’t let them.

    I weep for our planet…

  62. Catalina Highway construction began in 1933 and was completed in 1950. In 1963, Whittaker and Niering did their study. Then this bunch do their study 50 years later and attribute the migration of plants to “climate change”. I have a lot of problems with this study, first and foremost is they don’t know the distribution of the plants in 1913, 1863, 1813 and so on back. Then my question is, can any of this migration be attributed to the construction of the highway itself? Whenever man alters the landscape, the flora and fauna change also. I see numerous examples of highways, logging roads and fire trails altering the distribution of the flora and fauna along their routes – up hill and down hill.

  63. @ Eugene WR Gallun says: August 15, 2013 at 7:27 pm

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

    I have junipers on my property. At this location El Nino brings greater moisture, and blight to the junipers. The yuccas, however, don’t seem to get affected.

  64. @ Code Tech (5:39AM today) — LOL — great writing. Thanks for brightening my day with laughter.

    (except for the last line, of course — and, I may have misunderstood you, but, I think weeping is more appropriate for the Envirostalinist-enslaved people (and birds and bats in the way of the Windmill Crusaders (Don Quixote was right!)) … Take heart! The planet is dynamically resilient.)

    Look — at — that! I didn’t miss a closing “)” as I so often do!! #[:)]

  65. Awww Janice, the last line was supposed to be sarcastic as well… if I were to actually weep it would be for the gullibility of the people on the planet (also it was a sideways reference to the Crying Indian)

    And Bill Parsons nailed my inspiration :)

  66. If the researchers ever actually raise any plants, they will find that the plants do much better with an environment that furnishes some moisture. Drier climates tend to look like deserts. Stupidity!!!

  67. I read you, Code Tech (sorry for the misunderstanding). Anyway, great writing, I could “see” it all.

  68. What is a better indicator of relative temperature variations
    1) tree ring growth reconstruction via climate scientists such as Mann or Briffa or tree line elevation
    2) tree ring growth reconstruction via climate scientists such as Mann or Briffa or contemporaneous written records showing fruit trees growing 300 miles north of their current day range during the MWP?

  69. Or by an increase in available carbon dioxide combined with increased moisture.
    A mild winter or thirty isn’t global warming.

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