December 7, 2012 at 1:49 am #5978
Depends upon the species of the tree, Gail, but yes, I agree they said a lot of silly things in that article that annoyed me too. But at least it gets the message to ( some ) of the public that there is a problem…. but there again, that is the ‘old me’ trying to change people’s attitude, when the ‘new me’ has decided that it is pointless… young trees, old trees, all the planet’s vegetation is going to be changing beyond recognition, because of the stress of climate change along with all the other impacts from human activity… anyway, thanks for calling by…December 7, 2012 at 1:19 pm #5981
On the 23 May 2011 Scotland was hit with a massive storm (unheard of for this time of year) with winds up to 90 miles per hour. Apparently, the jet stream had thrown a wobbly and the effect was massive damage to trees and a Scottish countryside that looked like Autumn instead of summer. The new leaves on the trees were badly damaged with wind burn and although some of them did recover, some of them stayed that way all summer. I suppose this is just another feedback loop that the scientists are going have to take into consideration when analysing climate change. It disnae look goodDecember 7, 2012 at 3:25 pm #5984
That’s not really an example of a feedback loop, Annie.
You can have a linear sequence, that goes in a straight line, from cause to effect, and then stops.
Like if you throw a brick, it flies throw the air, through the window, hits the wall, that’s the end of it.
A feed back loop is different. The effect at the end becomes the new cause at the beginning, so it just keeps going round and round.
So when sunshine comes down and hits the Arctic sea ice, it gets reflected back, like a mirror, into space, so that means the heat is lost to Earth, which is a good thing if you want the Arctic to stay cold.
But once the sea ice has melted away ( because of global warming caused by burning fossil fuels, etc ) then the sunshine doesn’t get reflected into space, it warms the sea water, thus warmer water melts more ice, thus more open water, less ice, thus more warming… that’s a feedback loop.
The simple linear effect is easy to understand and sort of fixable. If a forest gets wrecked by an extreme gale, it can regrow given time.
But the feedback loop thing is a killer. If you tin of guitar feedback through a mike and amp, it can keep screaming louder and louder until something blows up and there’s a puff of smoke.
Once the frozen peat of the permafrost of Siberia and Canada begins to melt, releasing CO2 and methane, which warms the atmosphere, which warms the permafrost, which releases more CO2 and methane, that can keep going for centuries, and nothing can be done to stop it. That’s a feedback loop.
We could have switched off the amp, or the mike, or turned down the volume control on the guitar, so to speak, anytime in the last couple of decades and avoided the risk. Now it’s probably too late. From what Kevin Anderson is saying, we’d have to pretty much convert all industrial economies to being completely carbon free in what ? five, ten, years ? preferably yesterday, – which is, IMO, completely impossible.
The politicians and scientists are all useless wankers, and the public are mostly idiots, and that’s just in this country. The Chinese and the Americans and Canadians and the rest are a whole lot worse
The permafrost is already melting, it’s well underway. And that and the Arctic sea ice are not the only feedbacks, but they are the examples I understand best.
That’s what I mean about the train having left the tracks. You don’t need to be a scientist to know what happens next.December 7, 2012 at 3:33 pm #5985
More than 1,000 coal-fired power plants are being planned worldwide, new research has revealed.
The huge planned expansion comes despite warnings from politicians, scientists and campaigners that the planet’s fast-rising carbon emissionsmust peak within a few years if runaway climate change is to be avoided and that fossil fuel assets risk becoming worthless if international action on global warming moves forward.
Coal plants are the most polluting of all power stations and the World Resources Institute (WRI) identified 1,200 coal plants in planning across 59 countries, with about three-quarters in China and India. The capacity of the new plants add up to 1,400GW to global greenhouse gas emissions, the equivalent of adding another China – the world’s biggest emitter. India is planning 455 new plants compared to 363 in China, which is seeing a slowdown in its coal investments after a vast building programme in the past decade.December 7, 2012 at 3:43 pm #5986December 7, 2012 at 3:55 pm #5987
Annie : Apparently, the jet stream had thrown a wobbly…
The jet stream is high in the atmosphere going about 150 mph, separating the warm tropical air from the cold arctic air, there’s a good image of it in the link. You need to think that the Earth itself is spinning, so the air around it is always getting left behind, being dragged along, kinda thing.
Apparently, the up and down wave form of the jet stream, called Rossby waves, will slow down because the Arctic warms, which will mean it remains ‘stuck’ for longer periods, over one portion of the Earth, so whatever weather it’s giving us, stays for longer, so we’ll get more intense and extreme cold, or drought, or snow, or heat, for longer periods… generally bad news.December 7, 2012 at 4:12 pm #5988
Oh, I see (nearly). I was thinking of how carbon emissions effect the the jet stream which caused the freak weather event which effected the trees which effect the carbon emissions further and cause the jet stream to throw even more wobblies… or something. It’s very strange seeing the seasons all topsy turvy!December 7, 2012 at 4:35 pm #5989
I think Annie may have a point that it can fairly be called a feed-back loop to the extent that you attribute stronger storms to climate change. Although you can postulate that the forest will regenerate, 1. it may not, because the young seedlings will be facing conditions they aren’t evolved to thrive in, such as more sunlight, greater heat and less rain and 2. even if they did regenerate, large old trees sequester far more carbon than young trees and understory. So it will take many many years, if ever, for the forest to become the sink it was before it was flattened, thus contributing to more climate disruption, etc.
Of course, I would argue that the real reason (so far) that the trees are so vulnerable to wind is that they are weakened by ozone – with less root mass to anchor them to the ground. And I’m also very interested in potential salt damage to the leaves which I’ve seen in the US east coast following Irene last year and Sandy this year (maybe).
I never heard of it before and I’ve lived through many storms on the east coast over the past 56 years. It’s possible that because ozone literally eats away at the protective waxy coating on leaves and needles (just as it eats away at stone – see this story: http://www.futurity.org/science-technology/new-coat-keeps-limestone-from-eroding/) that they become burnt when exposed to salty air in storms.
I’m going to write to the Scottish Forest Service to see how the trees fared this year; thanks for that link.
GailDecember 7, 2012 at 5:12 pm #5990
Well, I agree that everything is linked to everything thing else, and especially with natural systems, a perturbation will likely have a ripple effect that produces all sorts of consequences far and wide, often completely unforeseeable.
But that’s been going on forever, it’s just intrinsic to the natural order of how things are for this planet. Don’t blame me, I didn’t design the damn thing
There’s usually some sort of control factor inbuilt that regulates, just like a thermostat on a hot water tank. So when the lemmings or hares or voles or whatever multiply and endanger the vegetation and young trees, the lynx and owls multiply and compensate, by reducing the rodents.
That’s basically Lovelock’s Gaia theory for the whole planet. Then we come along, find a secret treasure of zillions of years of sunshine stored as oil and coal, buried deep underground, and wreck the whole thing.
Feedback loop is different. If every time the effect becomes the new cause, amplified plus one, it keeps on amplifying until infinity, or until something stops it. Apparently that’s what happened to Venus. A runaway feedback loop, so it’s got an atmosphere 0f CO2, of what ? 400degC ? hot enough to melt lead, anyway, we could be heading in that direction, although some people say it is impossible, because there is too much water on Earth for that to occur…
Who knows, once upon a time, perhaps there were optimistic Venusian global warming denialists who uttered those very words ? Can’t happen here !December 7, 2012 at 5:22 pm #5991December 7, 2012 at 6:06 pm #5993
At the COP18 climate talks, the Filipino delegate broke down as he appealed to the world: ‘no more delays, no more excuses’December 8, 2012 at 2:44 am #5998
On a gentle slope above a trail junction in Sequoia National Park, about 7,000 feet above sea level in the southern Sierra Nevada, looms a very big tree. Its trunk is rusty red, thickened with deep layers of furrowed bark, and 27 feet in diameter at the base. Its footprint would cover your dining room. Trying to glimpse its tippy top, or craning to see the shape of its crown, could give you a sore neck. That is, this tree is so big you can scarcely look at it all. It has a name, the President, bestowed about 90 years ago by admiring humans. It’s a giant sequoia, a member of Sequoiadendron giganteum, one of several surviving species of redwoods.December 8, 2012 at 3:10 am #5999
The trees were fine this summer (as far as I could see). Last summer (2011) it was mainly the beech trees that were damaged, especially further inland. Nearer the coast, they did suffer windburn AND sand damage, with numerous species being affected. What I noticed with the trees in the woods near me was that the wind didn’t uproot them, but kinda snapped their branches off or broke their trunks. This was different to winter storms we’ve had in the past (never had a summer storm like this) where the wind usually uproots them.
I’ve been keeping an eye on them this year If you want me to take some pics to help with your research, just let me know (or if there’s anything else I can do to help.)
I’ve uploaded three pictures of the woods taken in October, November and December. It ‘felt’ like a pretty normal year – apart from the RAIN!December 8, 2012 at 3:20 am #6003
There’s Sequoiadendron giganteum down ‘our’ woods too ( it’s on the auld Duke’s Estate) but not as impressive as the PresidentDecember 8, 2012 at 3:25 am #6005
See, this is what happens to dumb humans who don’t pay attention to biosemiotics.
The horse is clearly in a mean mood, with his ears back, he’s coming to tell the stupid man to stay away from his herd, and the stupid man puts his hand out ‘hello nice friendly horsie, aren’t you cute’ and gets taught a lesson….December 8, 2012 at 5:19 am #6008
Annie it looks like you live in an exceedingly beautiful place!December 8, 2012 at 2:59 pm #6009
Yes, it is very beautiful, but also one of the most economically deprived areas in Scotland (it’s an old mining/weaving/textile area) with high unemployment. It sits between two rivers, the Clyde and the Avon. Scotland, generally, is very lucky in that you don’t have to venture very far from ‘civilization’ to find the wild places. Even Glasgow is only a 20 minute drive from Loch Lomond
The little lodge house with the bridge you see in the pictures is called ‘Mary Hoses’. Apparently, when Mary Queen of Scots was escaping from some rather nasty nobles, the then Duke of Hamilton, who was her guardian, gave her refuge in one of his castles. Whilst going over the bridge, she tore her stockings (hose) and had to discard them – hence the name. It’s probably all a load of cobs-wallop, but I like the story :-)
I can’t tell you how much it breaks my heart to watch the trees slowly die.December 8, 2012 at 6:36 pm #6015December 8, 2012 at 6:54 pm #6021
Pretty – is that snow today? It is insanely warm in New Jersey!
Middle daughter spent a year at the U of Glasgow vet school before transferring to UPenn, which had been her dream. But then she didn’t want to leave Scotland! and went into a major funk. She loved it there.December 8, 2012 at 7:07 pm #6022
No, it was taken 2010. We had a couple of really bad, out of the ordinary winters a few years ago and we might be getting another one this year (I love the snow!)
Cool about your daughter All my kids are engineers – including my two daughters :-0December 9, 2012 at 2:47 am #6037December 9, 2012 at 4:12 am #6045
Annie, I don’t know why you think they look okay…they look terrible to me! Those necrotic areas aren’t healthy. Sycamores are highly susceptible to anthracnose, a fungus. Frequently (at least in the US) they are almost or completely defoliated by June, then leaf out again to finish the season. Obviously after a number of years of having to leaf out twice, they can’t keep up. But it takes a while. I’m not sure if that is what is happening in your pictures or some other fungus or disease.
Ozone damage has particular visual symptoms but it’s important too to remember that internal injury occurs before you can see topical injury. Just tonight I came across a chapter in a book that is quite an excellent primer about various pollutants and their effects on vegetation (ozone is by far the worst, and also the most widespread) if you want to read up on it, there are also photos further along: http://www.intechopen.com/books/the-impact-of-air-pollution-on-health-economy-environment-and-agricultural-sources/the-effects-of-air-pollutants-on-vegetation-and-the-role-of-vegetation-in-reducing-atmospheric-pollu
Unfortunately although it was published in 2011, the data it used for tree decline stops at 2007, so it is prior to what I perceive as a rapid decline beginning in 2008. So it ends with a rather optimistic assessment for prospects for European trees which we know isn’t valid, just based on the onslaught of recent stories about ash, tamarack, oak and chestnut dieback, among others.
Remember that the worst impact of ozone is that it renders trees more vulnerable to pathogens – insects, fungus and disease. This has been proven over and over in fumigation experiments but is conveniently forgotten by foresters.
Another great resource that has photos of leaves exhibiting damage from ozone is http://ozoneinjury.org/
It’s divided into forest and agricultural species. When next summer rolls around, you will know what to look for. As the season progresses, signs become more common, especially on the earliest foliage.December 9, 2012 at 12:42 pm #6048
Oh my god! And there’s a whole woodful of them :-0 Although I don’t think it’s anthracnose (picture attached). My husband, who’s a landscaper/horticulturalist, said it’s just the normal change of early autumn! Luckily, I made up a collage of them at a later stage… I’ll look it out for you to have a look at it (if you don’t mind). Thank you for taking the time to inform and educate me!December 9, 2012 at 1:24 pm #6051December 9, 2012 at 3:07 pm #6060December 9, 2012 at 4:12 pm #6069
No, I didn’t mean to imply it is anthracnose, it doesn’t look like that to me. Here, is starts like a powedery grey-ish mold all over the surface of the leaf, and then the margins start to turn brown and then the whole thing shrivels up. They don’t turn those bright colors that you have in fact, I’ve never seen anything quite like it. The tar spot I’ve seen on maple leaves.
Your collage looks lovely – I haven’t seen sycamores turn color like that in years. But what of the sycanthracnose picture? That looks close to your first photos of the pair.December 9, 2012 at 4:31 pm #6071
The collage was taken from the ‘diseased’ trees. My husband thinks I’ve gone nuts! It’s not ozone damage either, I checked the web pages you recommended – thank you. I’ll keep my eye on them in the spring.December 9, 2012 at 4:55 pm #6077
Oh I see, I must have just done the same search you did – #6048 is listed as anthracnose too. This is what it looks like in the US, which affects every sycamore I’ve seen in the past few years (and I’ve seen a lot!): http://www.edentreepros.com/tree-disease-anthracnose.php
Maybe you just have a more colorful version b/c 6048 looks like 6037. It could behave differently depending on temps, precipitation and interaction with other diseases and/or pests.
In any case, when leaves are healthy and turn color, they are still smooth (like the ones you chose for your collage). When they get puckered with necrotic lesions, it’s not normal.
Horticulturalists and nurserymen and orchardists will be the last to concede there is a global trend for forest decline, which isn’t surprising, because their livelihood depends upon thriving trees…so go easy on your husband. For years foresters laughed at me for saying all species are dying, but now the evidence has become incontrovertible and the blame game has begun.December 9, 2012 at 5:02 pm #6079
Horticulturalists and nurserymen and orchardists will be the last to concede there is a global trend for forest decline
Oh no, he’s worse than me! He just says the pictures depict a normal autumnal change and is questioning my sanity considering I’ve been around the same trees for years
But I will be keeping a VERY close eye on themDecember 9, 2012 at 5:07 pm #6080
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