Climate change has transformed a vast band of protected forests in North Carolina into a lifeless “ghost forest,” new research finds.
In the Alligator River National Wildlife Sanctuary in North Carolina, over the last three decades, these ghost forests, characterized by thousands of leafless, limbless trunks, stumps, and fallen trees, account for about 11% of the tree cover. Occupies. The result is tens of thousands of acres of dead green.
Such die-offs are the expected effect of rising sea levels, exposing more land to salty seawater and literally sucking water from seeds and soil. But “it’s not just fringes that are moist,” said Emily Urie, a biologist and principal research author at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. Said in a statement..
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After analyzing thousands of NASA Landsat satellite images taken between 1985 and 2019, Ury and her colleagues found that more than 21,000 acres (8,500 hectares) of shelter trees were transformed into ghost forests during that period. I calculated that it was done. Surprisingly, more than half of the newly killed forests were more than 0.6 miles (1 km) inland from the nearest coast, far from the tides.
Various factors have led to the collapse of these inland forests — including hundreds of miles of drainage ditches that have poured seawater inland — but the associated storm surges. Hurricane Irene It proved to be the most destructive in 2011. During the surge, a wall of water 6 feet (1.8 meters) high spewed more than 1.2 miles (2 km) inland, after which everything was flooded.
The Alligator River National Wildlife Sanctuary is still recovering from the five-year drought that struck the hurricane, and the resulting damage was enormous. In 2012 alone, more than 11,000 acres (4,400 hectares) of trees turned into “ghosts”, far exceeding the 2,800 acres (1,100 hectares) of coastal land lost due to sea level rise over the entire 35-year study period. .. .. These vast new stands of drowned trees were clearly visible from space, researchers added.
As the world’s sea level rises accordingly Climate changeStorm surges like Irene are expected to be more destructive and cause greater floods. These surges are “the most pressing short-term problem with rising sea levels,” said Jackie Oosterman, an assistant professor at Columbia University in New York. I told live science before.. The lessons learned in North Carolina may help scientists predict and manage the harmful effects of future storm surges around the world, the study authors conclude.
Originally published in Live Science.
“Ghost Forest” invades North Carolina coast
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