Climate change could eliminate aspen forests in the western US, scientists say

Rising temperatures and drought have killed millions of aspens in the last 10 years

Payton Guion
Tuesday 31 March 2015 19:33

Climate change caused by greenhouse gas emissions could cause aspen forests to largely disappear by 2050, unless something is done to combat rising global temperatures.

The aspen, an iconic tree that blankets mountain slopes in the western US, was the subject of a scientific paper that said the widespread death of aspen forests was near-certain if global warming continues at the pace it has in the last 10 years, the New York Times reported.

In the past decade, millions of aspen trees in the western US have been killed due to drought and rising temperatures that scientists attribute to climate change.

William Anderegg, a researcher at Princeton University who led study, said the aspen is a wet-loving tree that lives in a dry landscape, which appears to be getting drier.

The scientists found that if climate change is brought under control, many aspens forests would be saved.

Dr Anderegg descried how aspens die in drought conditions as being similar to a heart attack. When the ground gets too dry, air bubbles appear in the tubes that carry water throughout the tree and disrupt water transport, the Times reported.

This report on aspens is the latest showing the effects of climate change on trees across the globe. A report released two weeks ago said that the Amazon rainforest was losing its ability to fight climate change.

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