Climate Change Not Letting Rocky Mountain Forests Recover After Fire

Tuesday, 22 March, 2016 - 13:42

A new study published in the journal Global Ecology and Biogeography says that climate change is to be blamed for alterations in the ability of Rocky Mountain forests to recover from wildfire.

The changing climate is said to be altering the ability of Rocky Mountain forests to recover from wildfire, according to a new study published in the journal Global Ecology and Biogeography.

Scientists say the growth of vulnerable new post-fire seedlings is affected badly whenever devastating fires are followed by warm and dry conditions. Another factor that has hit forest recovery is the increased distance between burned areas and the sources of seeds that typically replace trees lost to fire.

“Fires that are followed by warm, dry conditions offer us a window into the future”, says Brian Harvey, lead author of the study and a former University of Wisconsin-Madison graduate student in the laboratory of Monica Turner, E.P. Odum Professor of Ecology and Vilas Research Professor of Zoology.

Now a postdoctoral Smith Fellow at the University of Colorado Boulder, Harvey says that from all the best available data and modeling, and expectations about future climate, these are the kinds of fires and post-fire climates that we are going to see more of it in the future.

Though the forests of the Rocky Mountains are well-adapted to fire, that seems to be helping little in checking the destruction of the trees. Scientists say with climate change, vulnerable areas are more likely to see more of fires that are followed by drought. As such, these forests are unlikely to recover as quickly as they used to earlier.

“It's a double whammy because even if seeds can get to a burned patch, they still need to survive once they get there. That may be much harder to do in a warmer, drier climate", say scientists.

In a report published by the WTSP, "Tampa Fire Rescue reports this month alone it has responded to at least 74 calls. Estimates are that Spice-related calls in Tampa have cost around $50,000 in March."

"We ban the substance and so they tweak the substance, so we're constantly chasing our tail with it and they keep tweaking it," said Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri.

According to a report in AbcActionNews by Kera Mashek, "Police say drug dealers are targeting the homeless with cheap spice. A Clearwater Police officer caught video of three near lifeless people who were high. Around Unity Park in St. Pete, EMS have responded to 30 medical calls for spice overdoses in the past few days."

"They're calling it the one hit and quit on the street and it's knocking folks out," said Richard Linkiewicz, St. Pete Police homeless outreach officer.

"Police in Tampa say that more people than ever before are overdosing on the drug, as investigators in Clearwater say they've received dozens of calls for people who have had to be rushed to the hospital because of suspected spice use. WTVT reported that Tampa medical and law enforcement professionals warned last week about the dangerous uptick in overdoses that is possibly linked to a bad batch of spice that's being sold," according to a news report published by PJMEDIA.

'The spike that we're seeing and my personnel are dealing with on the road are unprecedented,' Gandy told WFLA. 'Looked like one of our zombie movies.' He added that he 'had 15 people walking around in various states of incapacitation'.

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