The high heat that accompanied the recent drought was the underlying cause of death for millions of pinyon pines throughout the Southwest, according to new research.
These photos show the massive die-off of pinyon pines that occurred during the recent drought. By October 2002, pinyons, normally evergreen, had reddish-brown foliage (left). By May 2004, the dead pinyons had lost all their needles, exposing their gray trunks. The photos were taken from the same vantage point in the Jemez Mountains near Los Alamos, N.M. Photo credit: Craig D. Allen, U.S. Geological Survey.
The resulting landscape change will affect the ecosystem for decades. Hotter temperatures coupled with drought are the type of event predicted by global climate change models. The new finding suggests big, fast changes in ecosystems may result from global climate change.
"We documented a massive forest die-off – and its a concern because its the type of thing we can expect more of with global warming," said research team leader David D. Breshears, a professor of natural resources in The University of Arizonas School of Natural Resources in Tucson and a member of UAs Institute for the Study of Planet Earth.
Mari N. Jensen | EurekAlert!
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