[ExI] Wildfires are erasing Western forests

BillK pharos at gmail.com
Mon Nov 29 12:39:20 UTC 2021

Wildfires are erasing Western forests. Climate change is making it permanent.
The evidence is clear: Forests are shifting to scrublands across large
swaths of the Western U.S.
Nathanael Johnson Sr. Staff Writer   Nov 29, 2021


The trees were not coming back. In the years following the 2000 Walker
Ranch Fire, Tom Veblen, a forest ecologist at the nearby University of
Colorado, Boulder, saw that grass and shrubs were regrowing in the
charred foothills, but he had to search to find the rare baby version
of the tall ponderosa pines that had dominated the area before the
“I kept watching and I was barely seeing any seedlings at all,” Veblen said.

The driving force here is that the rising global temperature is wiping
out seedlings. In many spots around the U.S. West, summer temperatures
are already high enough to cook young trees before they can develop
thick protective bark. Others have become so dry that seedlings
shrivel before their roots can grow deep enough to reach groundwater.
Both circumstances can thwart forest regeneration. Mature trees can
survive in these areas long after they stop reproducing. But when
fires wipe out these forests and seedings can’t get a foothold, they
are replaced with grasses and dense brush.

This forest loss is probably also happening in many other countries
troubled by increasing forest fires, like Australia and Europe.


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