Sugar maples and climate change
Posted: 03/18/2011 10:44:17 PM EDT
Friday March 18, 2011
Michael J. Caduto
Unlike the Ents in Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, real trees can’t walk away from danger or fight their own battles. When climate becomes inhospitable, forests can only shift ranges over long periods of time. This isn’t a problem when natural climate change occurs slowly. At the end of the recent post-glacial period, it took 4,300 years for the ice sheet to melt back from Middletown, Conn., to St. Johnsbury — averaging 245 feet a year. Forest communities in front of the glacier gradually migrated northward in its wake.
Starting about 9,000 years ago and stretching for the next 4,000 to 5,000 years, the average temperature in the New England area became nearly 4°F warmer than it is today, and the climate was similar to modern-day Virginia.
Barry Rock, Professor of Natural Resources at the University of New Hampshire in Durham predicts that, based on two climate models in a New England regional climate assessment study, “Within the next 100 years, Boston could have a climate similar to either Richmond, Virginia or Atlanta, Georgia.”
I was in Connecticut two weeks ago, wind chill was -5F and there was two feet of snow. Just like Atlanta.