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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Western Forests Are Disappearing

Yes, western forests are disappearing. And, it's not just because they're burning—and many are burning right now. But, those forests are not coming back. Steven Lacy writes in ‘Rising Temperature Is Going To Drive Our Forests Off The Mountains’ In The Southwest, Says Scientist:

According to Craig Allen, a research ecologist with the United States Geological Survey in Los Alamos, New Mexico, forests in the region have not been regenerating after the vast wildfires that have been raging for the last decade and a half.

Dr. Allen, who runs the Jemez Mountains Field Station at Bandelier National Monument, says those forests are burning into oblivion and grasslands and shrublands are taking their place. "Rising temperature is going to drive our forests off the mountains," he said.

Already choking through one of the worst wildfire seasons in recent memory, Colorado found itself dealing with a new series of blazes this week, driven by a relentless heat wave that has threatened to further fan the flames.

As the climate changes, scientists are documenting measurable shifts in the natural world — from a tremendous loss in Arctic sea ice and an increase in extreme weather like drought, floods and heatwaves, to the migration of plants and animals to new latitudes.

For Colorado, the weather models are forecasting the heat wave will move to the east later in the week, spreading north to beyond the Canadian border and east almost to the East Coast.