This just in: climate change may lead to the demise of the yellow cedar tree.
The tree, valued for commercial as well as cultural uses, once thrived in soggy soil from Northern California to Alaska. However, experts now say global warming could cause the species to bite the big one within 50 years. The tree is named for its distinctive yellow wood, and is already under consideration to be granted threatened or endangered species status.
An independent study, published in the journal Global Change Biology (appointment reading), found that the trees were dying due to root freeze across 7 percent of its range, including the areas where it was most common. The study found that snow-cover loss led to colder soil, leading to the trees’ roots freezing, eventually killing them. Researchers believe more of the trees will expire as the climate continues to warm.
The study’s core finding is that global warming is causing tree’s roots to freeze.
Perhaps I’m missing something. Global warming leads to colder soil? If it’s becoming too warm to snow or keep a snowpack, why isn’t it becoming too warm for the trees’ roots to freeze? Snow is just frozen water, but due to atmospheric conditions can fall even when it’s 36, 37, or 38 degrees out, temperatures too warm even to cause anything above ground to freeze.
Allow me two observations: First, if the climate continues to warm and the trees’ roots can still freeze solid, it’s still cold enough to snow. Second, if the climate continues to warm and things can still die by freezing solid, it’s really not dangerously warm, at least not in those locations, is it?
Then again, I’m not a trained scientist.