You have more than likely heard that our global climate is changing. But what does that mean to you and your home? Unfortunately, it’s sometimes hard to grasp how a global problem affects you directly. Since 1980, the average annual temperature in Minnesota has risen by 2°F. That not only directly affects our summer activities and winter snowfall; it affects our entire ecosystem. Discover the results of researchers across North America and Minnesota and how it’s affecting our forestry and our decisions in tree planting.
Research in North America
Researchers at Yale have been studying the effects of global warming on the giant sequoias which reach heights of roughly 300 feet with girths of 150 feet. While these trees have typically lived in excess of 3,000 years before their natural toppling, the warming of the earth is affecting one of their most vital resources—their water supply. As you can imagine, these giants need a hefty amount of water to survive. For thousands of years, they’ve heavily relied on the Sierra Nevada snowpack to melt throughout the spring and summer to provide the necessary water supply. Due to the warmer winters, which result in a decreased snowfall and snowpack, the trees have been unable to get the water and nutrients they need.
Research in Minnesota
Researchers at the University of Minnesota and Department of Natural Resources (DNR) have identified tree species that have the potential to die out, due to global warming. These include: birch, white and black spruce, balsam fir and jack and red pine. While water shortage immediately comes to mind in connection with global warming, an increase in forest fires and pest infestations are also hazardous effects. Warmer winters result in a greater survival rate in pests. Plus, when a tree is not getting the nutrients it needs, it is more vulnerable to disease and infestation.
Steps Being Taken
While the effects of global warming don’t have a quick or easy fix, the State of Minnesota is taking steps toward preserving our natural landscape. The DNR has been visiting “management strategies to address climate and renewable energy challenges.” Studies from the report indicate that northern tree species “are migrating north (through seed dispersal)…” In response, saplings of trees that are resilient in warmer temperatures are being planted. This includes red oaks, maples and white pines. Planting trees that areas in which they don’t normally develop, but researchers are hopeful.
Want to know how you can help? Learn about caring for your mature trees here.