Saturday, January 24, 2009

CO2

An incredible map animation of carbon dioxide emissions in the United States:



The Purdue U. researchers who put this together are also working to recapitulate the effort on a global scale with something they call the Hestia Project. Should be even more fascinating.

Meanwhile, in other CO2-related news, Western forests are dying at an increasing rate:

Jan 23rd, 2009 | GRANTS PASS, Ore. -- Trees in old growth forests across the West are dying at a small, but increasing rate that scientists conclude is probably caused by longer and hotter summers from a changing climate.

While not noticeable to someone walking through the forests, the death rate is doubling every 17 to 29 years, according to a 52-year study published in the Friday edition of the journal Science. The trend was apparent in trees of all ages, species, and locations.

"If current trends continue, forests will become sparser over time," said lead author Phillip J. van Mantgem of the U.S. Geological Survey's Western Ecological Research Center.


The West is a brittle environment to begin with. And this sort of thing has the potential to catalyze some nasty feedback loops:

These thinner and weaker forests will become more vulnerable to wildfires and may soak up less carbon dioxide, in turn speeding up global warming, they said...

Warmer temperatures may be encouraging pine beetles and other organisms that attack trees, the researchers said. That, along with the stress of prolonged droughts, may be accelerating death rates.


Frightening. And we're still waiting for the first wisp of evidence that humanity is remotely capable of dealing with this issue...

UPDATE: Paul Rosenberg has more on the Western forests.

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