Climate Change Impacts in New England
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.
Maple Syrup collecting bucket via Shutterstock.
Read more at ScienceDaily.