Foresters are still puzzling over why aspens in the Rocky Mountains are dying, a phenomenon that scientists are calling “sudden aspen decline,” or SAD.
But whatever the reason — many are blaming the added stresses of climate change — the situation doesn’t look good.
In Colorado, the number of acres with sick aspens — which drop their leaves, are ravaged by insects and can’t reproduce — has quadrupled between 2006 and 2008 to more than 850 acres, according to an article published by Reuters.
“What we think will happen is that aspen will disappear in some areas and there will not be anything we can do about it,” said SAD expert Wayne Shepperd of Colorado State University.
A study by scientists with the federal Rocky Mountain Research Station in Moscow, Idaho presented just such a scenario. It predicted the near total disappearance of aspen in the Rocky Mountain region by 2090.
The research, to be published in Forest Ecology and Management, links ailing aspen to global climate change and concludes that up to 41 percent of Western forests would be unable to support aspen by 2030. That figure would rise to 75 percent by 2060 and as much as 94 percent in 2090.
Read the full story at www.reuters.com, check out information from the U.S. Forest Service about sudden aspen decline, or learn about what Boulder County is doing to preserve aspen stands after the jump. Read more