How Are Trees Affected By Climate Change?

Through the decades, our climate has slowly changed. It has gotten warmer.

Since 1900, the average temperature on the planet has increased by a just a little over two degrees Fahrenheit. But the most extreme climate and weather shifts have actually happened in the years since the year 1980. We’re talking about things like flooding and drought.

What are the effects on forests of the climate changes? Like humans, trees are accustomed to an area with specific growing conditions. When the weather changes rapidly, they don’t have time to change. This can cause stress and could cause problems that require more care and attention.

A Change In Climate On Trees A Winner And Loser

What are the impacts of the changing climate on trees? The impact of climate change has affected trees quite some. A huge rainstorm within the West has caused massive tree deaths and outbreaks of bark beetles, while more precipitation in Northeast has increased forest productivity and the growth of trees.

Different tree species deal with the issue in different ways.

“Winners “winning” plants have adjusted to warmer temperatures and more humid conditions, and are experiencing an increase in growth.

However, these “losing” trees are not the only ones to suffer. The story is unique for each type of tree, and especially those that are located within the southern portion of their zones of hardiness. For example, birch trees in Michigan aren’t heat- or drought-tolerant, and they are suffering when they are more susceptible to these kinds of conditions. White pine trees located in New England can’t handle the increasing pressure from disease because of the increased humidity and precipitation. The tree species of the West are facing difficult conditions due to wildfires.

Effects Of Climate Changes On Tree Diseases And Pests

Climate change is certainly accelerating the tree pest and tree disease epidemics.

Certain insects of the tree are moving north to areas in which they were not able to thrive in the past due to winters that weren’t warm enough. For example the southern pine beetle indigenous to The Southeast U.S. has migrated north into places where it’s not previously been. The pest is killed due to temperatures that can drop to minus 0 degrees Fahrenheit and it’s not that cold in these areas.

Another consequence of climate change on the tree species that we’re witnessing is that certain insects are having multiple generations within one season, as the growing seasons last longer than they did previously. For example, oystershell scale an extremely destructive pest for trees, went from having just one generation per year to having two in the northern part of Ohio as well as southern Michigan which has led to higher numbers.

Tree Planting’s Impact Climate Change

There are some positive news regarding climate change.

While climate change impacts the growth of trees however, there are other impacts of trees on the climate. For example, trees provide shade, thus reducing energy consumption and cooling costs. Trees can also cut down on stormwater runoff and are even more important since heavy rains and precipitation increase. Furthermore, trees absorb as well as store carbon.

The planting of trees will aid in the future of climate. While you plant it, consider the future of the zones for your planting area. In the next 30-50 decades, Ohio is one example which is located situated in the Zone 5-6 region, has been expected to change into an area in Zone 7 because of the warming climate. (Insert USDA Hardiness Zone Map here)Some species like sugar maple or spruce are likely to not be able to thrive in the state. River birch, however native to the southern part of Ohio and further south, along with the bald cypress, a different southern tree, are doing very well across northern Ohio and even further north, and will continue be successful for years to come.



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