Monday, September 19, 2011

Ancient Pines Indicate Global Warming

In Ancient Pines, A Startling Shift in Tree Rings - NY Times 9/19/11

Great story here about bristlecone pines in Nevada. 50 years ago Donald Curry unexpectedly discovered the oldest living thing ever found, a tree he got his tree-borer stuck was found to be 5,000 years old! Unfortunately, the tree didn't survive the accident, but this same ancient forest is giving clues to modern climate change. These trees have been around so long that scientists can really talk in geologic time scales and see the effect of climate change in the habitat (manmade or natural). What they've found is a huge increase in growth of these trees as a direct result of increased global temperature. In fact, the trees rate of change has increased more dramatically in these last 50 years than at any other 50-year period in the last 3,700 years. This dramatic change has led these bristlecone pines to be labeled as an "indicator species" for climate change and can offer scientists another avenue to study the global effects of climate change directly.

“The accelerated growth is suggestive of an environmental change unprecedented in millennia,”

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