Stands of Douglas-fir, commonly referred to as “Christmas trees,” across the Pacific Northwest have been fighting off root rotting fungus for millennia; however in recent years, the rot, combined with other tree diseases, has been killing Douglas-fir at an alarmingly increasing rate. Scientists have begun to suspect that climate change’s effect on the area has led to an increase of these infestations. This effect could possibly be due to increases in temperature, moisture and humidity in the area, combined with decreases in snow and cold weather, all environmental factors in which these fungi thrive. In fact, many worry that this increase in disease could turn the Northwest’s forests from carbon sinks — systems which absorb carbon dioxide — into carbon emitters as the dead trees rot and release their sequestered carbon dioxide back into the atmosphere. Timber companies are worried as well, as the decrease in forest productivity has already begun to drastically decrease profits in the area, by millions of dollars in lost revenue annually.
Friday, February 14, 2014