Bitsy beetle warms Canada, study says

Nov 25, 2012
A "ghost forest" of dead and dying trees. An army of rice-grain-sized beetles, attracted by warming weather, has moved into Canada's western forests, where its tree massacre is causing the mercury to rise yet further, a study said Sunday.

An army of rice-grain-sized beetles, attracted by warming weather, has moved into Canada's western forests, where its tree massacre is causing the mercury to rise yet further, a study said Sunday.

The voracious horde of mountain pine beetles has invaded about 170,000 square kilometres (65,000 square miles)—a fifth of the forest area of British Columbia, Canada's western-most province, a research team wrote in the journal Nature Geoscience.

The beetles lay their eggs under the bark of pine trees, at the same time injecting a fungus that protects their offspring but kills the trees with the help of the larvae eating their insides.

As trees are felled, the cooling effect of their transpiration, similar to human sweating, is also lost.

The researchers measured a corresponding rise in summertime temperatures—about one degree Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit) over the affected areas, co-author Holly Maness from the University of Toronto told AFP.

"The increased we observe are relatively large and may be sufficient to drive further changes in , such as changes to circulation, cloud cover and precipitation," she said.

"The cascade. Previous studies have shown that climate change has allowed the beetle to flourish."

The beetle infestation ranks among the largest ecological disturbances ever recorded in Canada, said the team, adding that similar outbreaks were also claiming large forested areas in the western United States.

"The current outbreaks serve as a parable, illustrating how the delicate balance of processes imposed by a can be easily disrupted by climate change," said Maness.

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More information: Summertime climate response to mountain pine beetle disturbance in British Columbia, Nature Geoscience (2012) doi:10.1038/ngeo1642

Abstract
The present mountain pine beetle infestation in forests in British Columbia ranks among the largest ecological disturbances recorded in Canada so far. These recent outbreaks are thought to have been favoured by large-scale climatic shifts, and may foreshadow outbreaks of a similar magnitude in North American forests over the coming decades. The associated forest dieback could result in substantial shifts in evapotranspiration and albedo, thereby altering the local surface energy balance, and in turn regional temperature and climate. Here we quantify the impact of the Canadian pine beetle disturbance on the local summertime surface energy budget, using measurements of evapotranspiration, albedo and surface temperature, obtained primarily through remote sensing. We show that over the 170,000 km2 of affected forest, the typical decrease in summertime evapotranspiration is 19%. Changes to the absorbed short-wave flux are negligible, in comparison. As a result, outgoing sensible and radiative heat fluxes increased by 8% and 1%, respectively, corresponding to a typical increase in surface temperature of 1 °C. These changes are comparable to those observed for other types of disturbance, such as wildfire, and may have secondary consequences for climate, including modifications to circulation, cloud cover and precipitation.

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User comments : 35

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Parsec
3.8 / 5 (13) Nov 25, 2012
Oops... another study for the climate deniers to be disgusted about. Maybe the infections are just in the scientists imagination, or all those beetles are part of the global conspiracy.
ScooterG
1.8 / 5 (23) Nov 25, 2012
This article is 100% bullsh*t. Warm weather is not what attracts these beetles to the trees, and most likely the authors knew it. At the very least, they (authors) should have done a little bit of investigatory work before they spewed their lies.

The author(s) should be chastised by their peers and publicly humiliated. Shame on them for discrediting science, wasting money, and misleading the public.
Donutz
4 / 5 (12) Nov 25, 2012
And, right on schedule the denialist shows up with his vitriolic and yet completely content-free denial. Qu'elle surprise.

For the record, the pine beetle has been around for a long time but they get killed back by really cold winters. Unfortunately really cold winters have been getting scarce in BC, with the result that the pine beetle has been spreading relatively unchecked.
VendicarD
3 / 5 (12) Nov 25, 2012
Poor ScooTard. If he had even half a brain he would realize that the huge infestation of insects is a result of a lack of cold weather and freezing temperatures that are cold enough to kill them off.

"Warm weather is not what attracts these beetles to the trees" - ScooTard

Warmer winters in Canadian forests mean more wood boring insects survive to spring, resulting in dramatically higher insect populations in summer, and dramatically higher levels of insects boring into the trees, and therefore higher mortality rates of trees in Canadian Forests.

ScooTard has been told about this on several earlier occasions, but like all Denialists, he is incapable of learning.

With Republican Disease, death is the only cure.
lengould100
2.6 / 5 (5) Nov 26, 2012
With Republican Disease, death is the only cure
LOL

Perhaps there is a Republican Borer living in a warmer climate...? Oh, forgot, they're already identified. Every scientist who speaks truth is a Republican Borer.
alfie_null
4.8 / 5 (4) Nov 26, 2012
I recall hearing of this problem a couple years ago. It would be interesting to hear of what is planned to remediate the side effects (like the effect on the climate, perhaps others like erosion). Are the affected areas being replanted with a resistant species, etc.
ByronGiant
3.9 / 5 (7) Nov 26, 2012
This has been going on for the better part of two decades now. The problem has been vastly understated. The vast majority of our forests have been infested. Say goodbye to pine trees in North America as the beetles move south and east.
zaai
5 / 5 (2) Nov 26, 2012
The pine beetles are actually a normal resident of the forests around here. Canada government has a bit more background info on the issue: http://www.for.go...acts.htm

There are several contributing factors. Historically, forest fires and cold winters (-30C for multiple weeks) keeps the population in check, but due to suppression of forest fires, hot summers that weakens the resistance of the trees, less severe winters and tripling of the pine forests in the last 100 years, the balance has been disturbed and the population has exploded.

The infestation peaked in 2005 and is now on its decline, after killing enough trees to constitute 710 million cubic meters of timber. I have difficulties imagining how much wood that is.
djr
5 / 5 (1) Nov 26, 2012
Scooter - "before they spewed their lies." Please substantiate your accusations with examples (in plural) of the lies they told - and references to credible sources that support the accusation that they are lies.
ScooterG
1 / 5 (10) Nov 26, 2012
Scooter - "before they spewed their lies." Please substantiate your accusations with examples (in plural) of the lies they told - and references to credible sources that support the accusation that they are lies.


The beetles are not attracted by "warming weather". They are attracted to pine trees - for a variety of reasons.

They imply there was previously a "stable climate". I think even a pick-nose like you would agree this ain't possible.
djr
5 / 5 (3) Nov 26, 2012
Scooter - I was so impressed by your references to support your claim of spewing of lies. You can however throw childish inusults around very nicely. How do you know that the beetles are not attracted to warmer weather? Oh right - you have an advanced degree in entymology, and have spent many years studying the habitat of the mountain pine beetle. Please share with us your credentials for being able to make such lofty critique of this study. My guess is you don't have any - but are yet one of many of the couch potato scientists who know nothing - gorge on potato chips and spread your advanced wisdom about all things scientific on the internet.
jyro
1.8 / 5 (10) Nov 27, 2012
The Earth has been getting warmer or colder for 4,000,000,000 years. The only constant in Earths environment is change. It will continue to change till it's consumed by the Sun.

Man has been on earth .0075% of Earth's age or 300,000 years.
Earth will continue to change after man is long gone.

The universe is dynamic. Suns supernova, galaxys collide, planets are formed and lost in blackholes daily.

Man is merely a brief observer, not the cause.
Donutz
3.7 / 5 (3) Nov 27, 2012
@jvro

What an interesting piece of noise. You spout a few platitudes, then conclude "therefore we can't affect the climate". This is the real problem with denialist arguments -- they're nothing but talking points and unsubstantiated accusations. Doesn't matter how many times we prod ScooterG, he's never going to come up with any actual references. It's all about rhetoric.
djr
3.7 / 5 (3) Nov 27, 2012
jyro - "Man is merely a brief observer, not the cause." You are very wrong - humans are very much participants in the unfolding story of our environment. Check out the Ogallala reservoir depletion http://green.blog...-threat/ There is no doubt that we are affecting our envirnoment (including the climate) - and we are smart to study this issue and do everything we can to understand it.
Lex Talonis
1 / 5 (8) Nov 28, 2012
ScooterG....

Right on brother, right on.

ScooterG
1 / 5 (11) Nov 28, 2012
The pine beetle may be the only thing that can actually save our forests. The enviro-nazis have limited logging and extinguished forest fires for decades, all in the name of "protect our environment".

Now, thanks to the enviro-nazis, our forests are overgrown with too many trees, all of which are stressed, unhealthy, attractive to beetles, and susceptible to beetle kill.

The beetles are simply thinning the forests, something the enviro-nazis will never admit needed to be done. The beetle-kill areas will create fire-breaks, greatly minimizing catastrophic fire danger. And - due to increased sunlight hitting the forest floor - other beneficial forms of vegetation will begin to grow.

I suspect the transpiration this study worries about will indeed take a dive, but only until the surviving trees grow larger and more healthy (due to less competition), and other flora takes root.

Don't panic. Mother nature knows what she's doing. It's all part of the cycle.
VendicarD
3 / 5 (2) Nov 28, 2012
People have been going up and down for hundreds of thousands of years, so it is impossible to die by falling out of an airplane.

Sadly this is the best example of what Republicans call Logic.

"The Earth has been getting warmer or colder for 4,000,000,000 years." - Ivro
VendicarD
3.7 / 5 (3) Nov 28, 2012
Absolutely. By destoying the forests the pine beetles are saving them.

It is just like when George Bush saved the souls of all those Iraqi women and children he murdered.

God praise him.

"The pine beetle may be the only thing that can actually save our forests. The enviro-nazis have limited logging and extinguished forest fires for decades, all in the name of "protect our environment"." - ScooTard
FrankHerbert
3.7 / 5 (3) Nov 28, 2012
Scooter is one dumb MFer.

"WAR IS PEACE, FREEDOM IS SLAVERY, and IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH" - ScooTard
VendicarD
3 / 5 (2) Nov 28, 2012
Just like we will be culling the herd when Denialists start to be hung in the street for crimes against nature and man.

"The beetles are simply thinning the forests, something the enviro-nazis will never admit needed to be done." - ScooTard
ScooterG
1 / 5 (8) Nov 28, 2012
When animals expand their numbers beyond the carrying capacity of their range, they die off until a balance is achieved. Why would this same principle not apply to trees?
FrankHerbert
3 / 5 (2) Nov 28, 2012
Because plants make their own food you ignorant SOB. They are also very valuable for their carbon fixing ability, but well you're too F-ing stupid to get the value of that.
VendicarD
3 / 5 (2) Nov 29, 2012
I am pleased that you understand why your kind will soon be culled.

"When animals expand their numbers beyond the carrying capacity of their range, they die off until a balance is achieved." - ScooterG
ScooterG
1 / 5 (9) Nov 29, 2012
Because plants make their own food you ignorant SOB. They are also very valuable for their carbon fixing ability, but well you're too F-ing stupid to get the value of that.


Don't know much about farming, do you?
FrankHerbert
4 / 5 (4) Nov 29, 2012
Heh, you're pathetic.
ScooterG
1 / 5 (9) Nov 29, 2012
Heh, you're pathetic.


And you are ignorant. Your type of thinking is what has the forests in the condition they are currently in.

60 years or so of enviro-nazi forest mismanagement got us where we are - more enviro-naziism will only make the situation worse.

And to pile discredit upon discredit, you now want to blame global warming???

Mother nature gave you bozos an opportunity to prove your capabilities and you failed. Mother nature is now saying to you "sit down, stay out of the way, and STFU!"
FrankHerbert
3.4 / 5 (5) Nov 29, 2012
Don't know much about farming, do you?


You really don't get why this is such an ignorant statement, do you?

At least I have enough tact not to call you a nazi; however, you definitely have fascist tendencies, as do most 'conservatives'. Like I said, you're pathetic.
ScooterG
1 / 5 (9) Nov 29, 2012
Don't know much about farming, do you?


You really don't get why this is such an ignorant statement, do you?

At least I have enough tact not to call you a nazi; however, you definitely have fascist tendencies, as do most 'conservatives'. Like I said, you're pathetic.


Plants require food, water, and sunlight in order to "manufacture their own food". Too little of any of these three elements will cause plant stress. Too many trees in too small an area creates shortages of food, water, and sunlight.

That's why farmers cannot, for example, double their seeding rate and expect to double their production rate. If they could, we would have resolved world hunger years ago and would now enjoy low food prices.
FrankHerbert
3.7 / 5 (3) Nov 29, 2012
World hunger is only an extant problem because of 'conservative' ignorance/hatred/fear.

We have the technology --should we choose to allocate the resources-- to feed the world many times over. This won't happen as long as John Q. Conservative insists on sucking meat three times a day.
VendicarD
3 / 5 (2) Nov 29, 2012
Skootard reminds us why Conservatives will soon be an endangered species that will not be placed on the protected list.
lengould100
5 / 5 (1) Nov 30, 2012
Because plants make their own food you ignorant SOB. They are also very valuable for their carbon fixing ability, but well you're too F-ing stupid to get the value of that.


Don't know much about farming, do you?

I do. And the statement is essentially correct, IN NATURE plants don't require food the way animals do. In nature plants are satisfied to recycle the minerals (mostly phosphorous and potassium) from other plants which have died within their root reach, and to capture whatever nitrogen oxides they can get from other dead vegetable matter, from the effects of lightning discharges above them, or from bacterial symbiots.

Their primary matabolic process is to capture carbon from CO2 in the air and combine it with hydrogen from water to make carbohydrates or to make more complex molecules from carbon, hydrogen and oxygen to make eg. cellulose , formula (C6H10O5)n . The nitrogen is used by the plant to produce protein (in the form of enzymes) and nucleic acids
lengould100
5 / 5 (1) Nov 30, 2012
(cont'd) but is the only one of the three primary "fertilizer" supplements (NPK) which might even loosely be termed "plant food" in the way animal food is.

In animals, at least three units of food are eaten to produce 1 unit of live growth, eg. including the contained water. In plants, often 10 units of live growth are produced for each unit of NPK supplement provided. The NPK supplements are NOT food, as that word is used in discussing either herbivore or carnivore animals.
lengould100
5 / 5 (1) Nov 30, 2012
(cont'd) and to make eg. glucose or fructose C6H12O6 or sucrose C12H22O11 or starches (C6H12O6)n . Again, no N, P or K.

The key point is none of the three primary supplements NPK is really "food" in the way that word is used regarding animals, easily seen by observing that none of the three show up in the formula for cellulose, the primary component of the bodies of plants.
ScooterG
1 / 5 (7) Nov 30, 2012
@lengould100: Thanks for taking the time to post that information.

While it may be possible to throw enough water and plant "food" at a (farm) crop necessary to double the production rate, there is only so much sunlight that will hit a given area - hence the crop spacing requirement.

What we have is AFD (Anthropogenic Forest Decimation), brought to you by the US environmentalists. What we are witnessing (via the bark beetle) is Mother Nature rectifying AFD.

It took the enviro-nazis 60 years or so to create the problem - it may take Mother Nature 100 years or more to fix it.

I stand by my original statement: this article is bulls**t.
FrankHerbert
3 / 5 (2) Nov 30, 2012
I'm a proud AFD denier. Crucify me on a hockey stick.

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