Pollution

The modern forests and ecosystems are being severely damaged by pollution. Pollution from transportation, oils, and non-clean burning fuels have caused a great deal of permanent damage which must be stopped for the sake of the planet. Carbon dioxide is needed for photosynthesis. This is the process by which plants use natural sunlight to grow. With water and sufficient nutrients increased carbon dioxide can enable higher productivity in trees. Higher levels of carbon dioxide can benefit forests which have fertile soils in the Northeast but will have a negative effect on forests in the west and in the southeast where water is limited.

Increasing temperatures can increase the growing season length. However, it can also result in a shift in tree species. If the conditions change and are no longer suitable certain species are at risk for extinction. Climate change will increase the drought risk in certain areas as well as flooding risks in others. This will alter the timing of snowmelt which will change the availability of water seasonally for forests. Certain trees may be resilient to a degree of drought but others are not and they run the risk of being wiped out. Drought will increase the risk of wildfires given that dry shrubs and tree provide fuel for fires. Drought also reduces the ability of trees to produce sap which acts as a form of protection against destructive insects like pine beetles.

Climate change is also likely to alter the intensity and frequency of insect outbreaks, storms, wildfires, and invasive species. Such disturbances can reduce productivity and alter the distribution of tree species. Some forests have the capacity to recover from such disturbances while others do not. In certain cases existing species will die out and a new species may colonize the area.

These natural disturbances interact with one another in the sense that temperature changes as a result of climate change can increases the risk of precipitation which then increases the risk posed to forest ecosystems. Drought might weaken trees which then makes the forest ecosystem more susceptible to insect outbreak or wildlife. The combination of these climate changes can have a truly detrimental effect on forest ecosystems thereby reducing the important role it plays. It is now more important than ever that climate change is monitored and our carbon footprint is controlled. Without increased control we run the risk of destroying what forest ecosystems are left.

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