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Posted Fri Jan 23 2009: from BBC (UK):
Climate shift 'killing US trees'
Old growth trees in western parts of the US are probably being killed as a result of regional changes to the climate, a study has suggested. Analysis of undisturbed forests showed that the trees' mortality rate had doubled since 1955, researchers said. They warned that the loss of old growth trees could have implications for the areas' ecology and for the amount of carbon that the forests could store.... "Because mortality increased in small trees, the overall increase in mortality rates cannot be attributed to ageing of large trees," they added.... "We may only be talking about an annual tree mortality rate changing from 1 percent a year to 2 percent, but over time a lot of small numbers add up," said co-author Professor Mark Harmon from Oregon State University. He feared that the die-back was the first sign of a "feedback loop" developing.... Another member of the team, Dr Nate Stephenson, said increasing tree deaths could indicate a forest that was vulnerable to sudden, widespread die-back.
[Read more stories about: forests, massive die-off, tipping point, feedback loop, carbon sinks]

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