Environment

Climate Change May Dim Future Fall Colors

Northwest News Network | Oct. 22, 2010 1:43 a.m. | Updated: July 17, 2012 1:06 a.m. | Richland, WA

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Across the Northwest trees are starting to dance with vibrant colors: reds, golds and browns. But scientists say in the future climate change may dim colorful fall leaves in the Northwest.

Photo courtesy of Freeman Mester

The fading daylight and the crisp air signals to trees that it’s time to get ready for winter.

Now is when trees are working to recoil nutrients from leaves into their more cold-protected twigs, branches and trunk. They’ll need that energy to survive the winter and to make new leaves in the spring.

Kate Lajtha is a professor specializing in plants and global warming at Oregon State University.

Research shows climate change could make droughts more likely. And she says it could mess up the special balance between daylight, temperature and trees.

Kate Lajtha: “What you might see is rather than see deciduous trees turn beautiful reds in the fall and then dropping leaves, you might see increased dropping of green leaves in the summer.”

Lajtha studies forest biochemistry and how nutrients cycle in ecosystems.

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