Los Alamos National Laboratory
A team of researchers using Los Alamos National Laboratory’s supercomputers developed a model for projecting tree kills by bark beetles as the climate warms.
Looking at forests in California, the team of researchers found that western pine beetle infestations killed 30 percent more trees due to warmer temperatures than they would have killed under drought conditions alone.
While the study focused on California forests, study author Chonggang Xu, a senior LANL scientist, said he anticipates the trend will hold true for forests throughout the western United States, including in New Mexico.
Xu said that the number of trees killed because of warmer temperatures surprised him…
…the western United States is facing a megadrought and climate change models show that drier and hotter conditions will likely impact the region in the future.
This can stress the trees, Xu said, and make them more vulnerable to insect attacks. At the same time, he said bark beetles may be able to complete their life cycle faster, leading to more insects. Warmer winters also mean that fewer beetle eggs die.
The trees are screwed, we’re screwed. Unless we start doing something truly meaningful about the climate disaster.