The findings of a study carried out by Penn State University suggest that the composition of the eastern forests has not been altered due to climatic changes, but due to a change in disturbance regimes.

Forests in the Eastern United States remain in a state of “disequilibrium” stemming from the clear-cutting and large-scale burning that occurred in the late 1800s and early 1900s, contends Marc Abrams, professor of forest ecology and physiology.

The state of Minnesota is experiencing a significant overhaul of its forest populations, where trees like the American basswood, black cherry, red maple, sugar maple, and white oak are becoming increasingly prevalent, whereas the region’s more characteristic species like the white spruce and balsam fir tree fight to acclimatize to increasing temperature and wet winter storms, the Nature World News reported recently.

 

But, Marc Abrams, a researcher from Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences is disputing on the fact that the climate is significantly a secondary factor involved in forests overhaul, especially in the eastern United States forests. He further insisted that these forests are still struggling to recover from the state of ‘disequilibrium’ which occurred in the late 1800s and early 1900s from the clear-cutting and burning of large scale forests.

Moreover, Abrams noted, since about 1930 — during the Smokey Bear era — aggressive forest-fire suppression has had a far greater influence on shifts in dominant tree species than minor differences in temperature.

“Looking at the historical development of Eastern forests, the results of the change in types of disturbances — both natural and man-caused — are much more significant than any change in climate,” said Abrams, who is the Steimer Professor of Agriculture in the Department of Ecosystem Science and Management.

“Over the last 50 years, most environmental science has focused on the impact of climate change. In some systems, however, climate change impacts have not been as profound as in others. This includes the forest composition of the eastern U.S.”

Abrams compared pre-settlement – original land survey data along with the present vegetation conditions in the eastern US, in a recent study published in the journal Global Change Biology. Shockingly, it revealed that the “change” experience by the eastern forests be similar to the still ongoing turbulent results of European disturbances on what was once a balanced forest system.

Meanwhile, Abrams added that this doesn’t mean that the climate isn’t having its own influences. It’s just that, “land-use change often trumped the impacts of a warming climate, and this needs greater recognition in climate change discussions, scenarios and model interpretations.”

42 Responses

  1. privatejoe

    This article is written by a total idiot, in a idiot’s web-magazine.

    Reply
  2. Eastern Forest Composition Altered Due to Change in Disturbance Regimes – American Live Wire | Everyday News Update

    […] altered due to a change in disturbance regimes, not due to climatic changes, a study carried out by Penn State University […]

    Reply
  3. Scott Sinnock

    The scientist’s conclusion, “Looking at the historical development of Eastern forests, the results of the change in types of disturbances – both natural and man-caused – are much more significant than any change in climate.”

    Well, duh! …………… but finally someone else shouting in the wilderness. I hear you. Thank you, thank you.

    And that applies to almost all impacts attributed to climate change including the damages due to rising seas and flooding of buildings and harm of their human inhabitants; buildings built in floodways where we know exactly NOT to build and basically didn’t until we invented the iron horse with which we thought we could tame the rivers and the tides. Land use not climate change. It’s condos on barrier islands, not a few inches of rising seas or slightly more intense hurricanes. It is the inevitable hurricane destroying condos we continue to build in places where we should know better. I am reminded of an old quote, “We strain at a gnat and swallow a camel”. (posted for 3rd time here, sorry)

    Reply
  4. Scott Davis

    Global Warming is BS. The “science” behind “climate science” is farcical and fictitious. Go ask a real scientist who disagrees with it… there’s at least 30,000 in the United States alone.

    Reply
    • bobcat4424

      The Butterfly Effect pertains to sensitivity to initial conditions and chaos theory. It really has nothing to do with deforestation except that both climate and forestation ate both chaotis rather than linear systems.

      Reply
  5. duderambler

    Why is there a picture of a western forest in an article about eastern forests?

    Reply
    • Human Person Junior, Jr.

      The author mentions that “…composition of the eastern forests has not been altered due to climatic changes…”

      “Climactic” relates to climaxes, whereas “climatic” relates to climate. I guess I see where author Mahajan’s mind resides.

      Reply
  6. Fe02Dream

    Climate change is moving entire biomes northward. Deserts not sustained by vanishing fossil water like the Ogallala aquifer are expanding. It’s slow, but well documented. Other effects like acid rain may have a more immediate effect- but implying several influences cannot simultaneously cause change is not good science.

    Reply
  7. Tiredofwhackos

    Obviously, it is hard to pin down all of the factors driving invasion/succession is a complex ecosystem. The legacy of bad forestry practices is a bit of a no-brainer, and pretty much everyone in forest ecology research already accepts this as a factor. However, this paper is a bit of a tempest in a teacup as the role of climatic change has not been universally accepted as a driver of forest species composition in the Northeast anyway. Abrams is using the controversial nature of climate change to draw attention to lackluster research that restates what is already known about bad forestry practices. This news article takes the bait and ignores the broader literature, which shows that there are other factors that are widely supported in the discipline as having more impact (so far) than climate change on this particular ecosystem. Case in point,
    it is pretty well-established that atmospheric deposition patterns are closely related to shifts in soil nutrient profiles and die-off of some species (and invasion by others). This effect can also be extrapolated from the controlled research in agriculture that demonstrates changes in soil acidity from application of nitrogen fertilizers (nitrifying bacteria convert N fertilizers to nitrate, which forms nitric acid and lowers soil pH – globally farmers routinely lime soils to overcome this
    affect). This situation is problematic in the Northeast as soils are already poorly buffered and low in nutrition. The addition of traces of sulfuric and nitric acids in NE rainwater (from combustion of all sorts of fuels) has a greater effect on these un-buffered soils than Midwestern “supersoils” and it is impractical to apply lime on a large scale to forests to combat the problem. Many other drivers have also been recognized. Abrams probably would have compared the role of legacy management to one of these factors if he were not trying to grab headlines by “debunking” early research in climate science (which is primarily being debated by non-scientists).

    Reply
    • forestdude

      Forest fires rarely occur in eastern forests. It’s a humid temperate forest. In other words it’s wet. Everywhere! So the argument that fire suppression is a driving factor of species composition in eastern forests is silly. In the west fire suppression has been a major contributor to changes in species composition, along with logging and warmer drier summers. Climate (the elevation of the land you are examining) and land use disturbance from clear-cutting and plowing have impacted species composition in the east (check out much of the research that has been going on at the Harvard Forest for two decades+). Red maple, for instance, is far more prevalent now than in the 1800’s. The American chestnut blight also has dramatically changed eastern forest composition. Changing climate may not be driving the species changes that have occurred but warmer temps in the winter and/or summer do impact the viability of more northern species (like balsam fir), existing at the southern extent of their range. This researcher is likely bringing-up “climate change” as a means to get press about his article and further grant dollars. Penn State is pretty well tied in to the natural gas (fracking) and mega-agriculture conglomerates (i.e. monsanto and cargill). The research isn’t dishonest but is speculating regarding the climate change issue.

      Reply
  8. Mr. Fusion

    It would stand to reason that the minor effects we currently have seen in climate change would have little impact on forests. That is simply because the same species grow over a range of temperatures and rainfall.

    Clear cutting and slash and burn would have an effect due to the effect those practices ended up having on the soil. Then, as the article points out, new species were planted supplanting the native species.

    Man made climate change has had little effect, but man made terraforming has had a noticeable effect.

    Reply
    • bobcat4424

      Actually, there have already been very major changes to forests that are directly attributable to AGW. Insect and pest ranges are moving steadily north with global warming. As one example, bark beetles have moved north with the milder winters and have already killed millions of square miles of commercially useful trees. Those millions of square miles of trees no longer remove any CO2 (and actually release CO2 as a product of decomposition) further exacerbating global warming. Deforestation and global warming is one of the most easily observed and documented global warming effects on which a dollar value cam be placed.

      There was nothing in the article that said that global warming has “little impact on forests.” What the article said is that some of the deforestation is due to land and fire management practices going back over 100 years.

      The trouble with planting new trees to replace old is that the new plantings tend to be monocultures (only one species) and this leaves the new trees several hundred times more susceptible to pests and diseases. Despite the cries of the lumber industry, it is not the same to cut down a 200-year-old Douglas Fir in Washington and replant a slash pine in Georgia. In fact this sort of planting is actually encouraging bark beetles and other pests and diseases.

      Reply
      • twopartysystem1

        Isn’t that the craziest thing about climate? The damn thing just changes all the time. And so do the plants and animals that inhabit the ever-changing climate. An amazing, unexpected surprise!

      • bobcat4424

        Actually, you are confusing climate and weather. Weather “just changes all the time” but climate should be relatively stable over long (thousands of years) periods of time. That climate is changing so incredibly rapidly is indeed an unexpected surprise.

      • twopartysystem1

        Thanks, now I understand the difference. It is amazing that the same gov’t-dependent types who have proven they can’t run the NIH, CDC, IRS, VA, ATF or Secret Service (etc., etc.) honestly and seem to have a problem with the truth on a daily basis, have been able to definitively identify the ONE molecule that will solely define the global climate decades out. Wait – no observable warming for two decades? No problem – you see the heat is hiding at the bottom of the ocean. And yes, that IS how the Loch Ness Monster stays warm.

      • bobcat4424

        You’re still confusing weather and climate. Oh well, I guess for the up-tighty righties, anything is an excuse for an anti-government rant. Hey, I have an idea — move to a country you like!

      • twopartysystem1

        I’m just pointing out the ridiculousness of the entire subject and polls show I’m in the majority. Probably frustrating if you really believe the warming stuff, and surely why these arcane theories and articles are proffered. But regardless I’m a nasty capitalist employer that is here to stay, just like Al “Gulfstream” Gore and Leonardo “Four Houses” DiCaprio. I mean if we weren’t here, who would own all the politicians?

      • bobcat4424

        Polls show that even a majority of Republicans believe that global warming is real and that it is caused by man. Around two-thirds of Independents and Democrats agree. I see nothing frustrating there. This is just another battle the capitalists have lost.

      • larryw4csc

        Nonsense, and I can prove it. Climate is caused by the SUN, which constantly changes for billions of years. The Earth wobbles in its orbit and is also constantly changing.

        Proof, hell that’s easy! Block out the Sun with a big Mylar shield that darkens the Earth and watch the “CLIMATE CHANGE”!

      • bobcat4424

        So it works on the same principle as your tin foil hat?

      • bobcat4424

        I have a cabin in the mountains where pine bark beetles have never been a real problem. Just about 2 degrees F increase in winter temperatures has meant that the crowns of every pine tree I have is dying from the borers. It has cost me about $600 to have them all cut down. There are massive clear-cuts of healthy pines being undertaken in state and national parks there to try to create a “firebreak” to try to stop their spread. But the foresters there are saying that it is a hopeless task if temperatures continue to rise.

        I have a friend who lives in the mountains of North Carolina. There a fungus has extended its range north along with global warming and all their hemlock trees are being killed.

      • Mr. Fusion

        All through history, we have had droughts, fires, plagues, excess rain, freezing summers, warm winters, insect infestations, and dudes with chain saws.

        If you have borers in the next county, you will eventually get them in your county. They don’t care all that much if the temperatures are 2 degrees warmer. They thrive in temperatures within a 25 degree range, not a 2 or three degree window.

      • bobcat4424

        Your logic is some of the most defective I’ve seen lately. The issue is the winter overkill line. You can find it for all pest insects and many beneficial ones. It is the like that defines the geographical range based on the point where an insect colony cannot overwinter in enough quantitiy to be able to extend their colony and therefore effect their range. There is a solid correlation between milder winter temperatures and the northward march of many insects. Ranges are being extended that have been in place for thousands of years.

        Bark Beetles are one of the easiest to to survey from the air since they first kill the crowns of the trees. Infestations are easily seen from the air — and they are millions of acres so the data is plentiful. It is extremely safe to assume that before a bark beetle killed a particular tree it had gone as long as hundreds of years without infestation (or the tree would already be dead.) In what temperatures they thrive (and it is more like a 75 degree range) is not an issue. It is the winter freeze that kills off colonies that have extended too far north that matters.

        In short, your reasoning is a tad silly.

      • Mr. Fusion

        Your logic is some of the most defective I’ve seen lately.

        It seems you don’t realize how infestations works. So tell us, why are zebra mussels a problem? The Great Lakes didn’t suddenly warm.

        I’ll give you a hint, there are many reasons. Temperature is usually a minor concern. Predators, environment, and food supply are all more important than a temperature increase of two degrees averaged over the course of the year.

      • bobcat4424

        I agree. Just know-nothing “journalists” trying to make something out of nothing. Sometimes I think these authors don’t actually read the papers they are commenting on.

      • Eric Jennings

        You mean “milder” winters like last winter, when “polar vortex” came into being? Oh, wait, you meant “milder” in the sense that any winter where the average temp is a whole half degree warmer than normal, and there’s proof positive man-made global warming is a real and dire threat. Right?

        Here’s how it works, folks. If one of those evil Deniers notes that the previous December was colder than normal, the global warming alarmists scream, “But that’s weather! We’re talking about climate!”.

        But should an unusually hot July come along, suddenly “It’s global warming run amok and we’ve got to act NOW!”

      • bobcat4424

        You make a very good point about last winter. You are still confusing weather with climate. Sure, the Northeast had a rough winter. THAT is weather. But for Alaska it was the warmest winter on record at exactly the same time. In fact, the “finger” of hot air through Alaska is what distorted the polar vortex and sent it south. And in North America and globally, 2013 was a record warm year and 2014 is on track to beat it as a record warm year. The reason is that the winter in the northeast was simply not cold enough to disrupt the average. And the cooler spot in the northeast for two months is the only spot on the globe in the winter of 2013-2014 to show cooler than average temperatures.

        When it is the hottest July in recorded history, yep, some people are going to say that. At some point (>40 years) weather starts to edge toward becoming climate. After around 100 years it is there.

        I would use August since that data is already released. August 2014 is the hottest August on record in history. And it raises the chances that 2014 will be the hottest year on record are up to around 85+%.

        The mean global temperature rose 1.12°F above the 20th century average. That means the 10 warmest years on record have all happened since 1998, with 2010 still on top as the warmest of all. The only year in the entire 20th century that was warmer than 2013, and the only one remaining in the top 10, was 1998. And 2014 has an 85+% chance of knocking 1998 out of the top ten.

      • CarltonBensonIII

        Actually, the folks at GISS/NOAA took their thumb off the scales to again recognize 1934 as the warmest year. That many warm years have happened since 1998 is fatuous. We’ve been steadily warming since coming out of the Little Ice Age (Yes, climate has not been stable for thousands of years). There is only a 20 year correlation between warming and increased CO2, and 18 years without the correlation. We still don’t know the climate sensitivity to CO2, but the most recent research says that the IPCC folks and warmists have it wrong by 2x to 4x.

      • bobcat4424

        Wrong. They said that the warmest year in the continental United States was 1934. The Continental US comprises less than 2% of the globe. The actual lag is more like 40 years. the correlation actually can directly be tracked back to before 1850 with precision and as far as 100,000 years with less precision. The idea that global warming has not been recorded for 18 years is a myth. For the past 16 years the RATE OF INCREASE of warming has sloiwed by around 17%. That is like an accelerating car slowing its rate of acceleration and then having the driver claim he was at a full stop. And yes, the IPCC models have been consistently wrong — they have been about 30+% too law. Observed Global Warming is happening faster than models have predicted. So what?

      • CarltonBensonIII

        And since you’re picking warm temperatures, 80% of the hottest daily records worldwide have all occurred before the 1950s, before the increase in C02 through fossil fuels.

      • bobcat4424

        1) Wrong century. The massive outpouring of CO2 began with the Industrial Revolution more than 100 years previously. It started in about 1830.
        2) That 20% of the daily highs have occurred have happened since the 1950’s would be astoundingly HIGH! and actually proves global warming. Based on 150 years of data (about 45,000 days), there should statistically be only 13 record daily temperatures a year. These would be evenly split between high and lows. You are saying that 6952 record highs have happened since the 1950’s. That is way too high.,

    • larryw4csc

      Make sure everyone understands “terraforming” INCLUDES that fake artificial carpet they are so proud of called a “manicured lawn”. I wondered why there were reports of the pollinators being extincted years ago and killed my fake carpet with RoundUp, leaving the yard to be recovered by Nature. Since then, millions of bees, butterflies and other pollinators have enjoyed all the natural flowers that blew into the totally-natural space I’ve provided. Around the largest oak tree behind the house, a natural “glen” has evolved into the finest outdoor space in the neighborhood full of carpets. Birds, hummingbirds, squirrels, and other natural inhabitants congregate to enjoy the untouched property turned back to Mother Earth. As I sit feeding a baby squirrel I’ve befriended peanut butter-smeared Ritz crackers, out of my hand, in the cool, shaded “glen”, I can tell you that YOU and your artificial grass carpet loaded with chemicals is a huge problem….

      Reply
      • Mr. Fusion

        My neighbor used to use a ton of garbage on his lawn. One day when he was spreading his crap, I asked his wife where their well was. He doesn’t do that any more.

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