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Posted Fri Feb 5 2010: from SolveClimate:
Studies Find Faster Tree Growth as Climate Changes, Potential to Drive Further Warming
Forests in the eastern United States appear to be growing faster than they should be, and increases in temperature and carbon dioxide are the likely culprits.... First, local measurements taken over 17 years showed a 12 percent increase in CO2 levels in the area. Temperature measurements from the nearby Baltimore-Washington International Airport over about 100 years indicated a significant increase, as well, and the growing season -- based on first and last frosts of the winter -- has grown by about seven days.... He did say, however, that "if this is a widespread generality that this extra growth is going on, it may well have contributed to slowing the increase in atmospheric CO2." The "metabolism" of the forest seems to have sped up, he said, and it is certainly possible that some negative effects could be associated with such a process.... And even if the increased carbon dioxide could be adding mass to certain forests, there are well-documented negative effects that climate change is having on forests as well. The most striking of these may be the ongoing invasion of pine bark beetles over vast swaths of the Rockies, where millions of trees are being consumed by the beetle infestation. In British Columbia alone, an area bigger than Ireland has already been largely destroyed, and the unprecedented beetle swarms have been linked to warming temperatures.... "It's not just some easy thing that you can say, 'well, temperature will go up so that will be positive for these people, and this will be negative for those people.' It's just very complicated, and the effects will be disruptive.
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