Most people stay indoors once the winter season starts. Nobody in their right mind would prefer to stay outdoors for long aside for a few minutes to an hour or two of frolicking and playing in the snow but other than not would be considered rather foolish. You can easily get sick if you are overexposed to the cold. Even animals hibernate or shy away from the snow unless you are really furry and don’t mind the extremely low temperature. What many of us don’t notice is how plants react to this change in season. We all know that trees start shedding leaves and changing colors at the onset of fall. However, the rapid progression of climate change these days is doing more damage to forest trees than they usually had to endure each winter in the past. Weather events worsen such as ice storms that can take its toll on the plant life out in the great outdoors.
Now that winter has come, just what do trees have to endure? During ice storms, tree limbs can get frozen and the heavy weight of the ice can be destructive and cause these tree limbs, or if unfortunate enough, the tree itself, break off and fall. It is even more damaging if there are human properties like vehicles or a part of the house under these frozen trees as they may receive the impact and end up damaged too. It is a reality many homeowners living in the northern part of the US and in Canada since they experience a real cold and snowy winter. People can even get killed if they happen to be right under these frozen trees at the time they take the fall and they usually get killed in an instant. It has happened before and may happen now with climate change making natural weather phenomena act up and becoming more destructive than they already were.
But scientists still don’t know the long-term impact of ice storms on forests. “Our forests are tremendously resilient,” said Rustad, an ecologist with USDA’s Forest Service. “We think they can recover from a light icing, but extreme icing or repeat icing might exceed their capacity to recover.”
Forests are very valuable in the fight against climate change. An intact forest acts as a carbon “sink,” absorbing huge amounts of carbon from the atmosphere. But when trees are crippled by a severe ice storm — and branches topple — the damage depletes carbon stores, and makes it more difficult for the trees to take in carbon. It also hampers the trees’ ability to repair themselves. “Trees can’t take up as much carbon and they lose what they have stored,” Rustad said. “The impact of these extreme events reduces the vigor of trees, threatens their mortality, and weakens their effectiveness as a carbon sink.”
In reality, the forest and all the plant and tree life in it knew how to deal with weather changes since time immemorial. But because humans have been so greedy and triggered the premature onset of climate change, even the natural resiliency of the entire forest life is being tested. Experts even notice that they now struggle to recover because of continuous heavy snowing and icing and it spells bad news for all of us knowing how much trees help in taking in carbon and consequently releasing oxygen making it possible for life to prosper in the planet.
"Trees have a certain amount of stored carbon," she says. "With one icing, they have enough reserves to re-foliate and recover."
But back-to-back severe icing events can be devastating to a forest's carbon reserves. Climate change scientists forecast that ice events will increase in frequency.
Still, Rustad is hopeful about forests, and the ability of science to influence policy.
"Our forests are tremendously resilient," Rustad asserts. "I grew up in the days of acid rain. So scientists embarked on a couple decades of exhaustive research and we passed the Clean Air Act, and reduced sulfur emissions by 80%."
While ice storms happen naturally to places that snows during winter, it has gotten worse and worse in the midst of climate change. Let this be a lesson to us to be more conscious and cautious of our actions since it is not only us who are affected by its negative consequences but every living thing on the planet. For instance, we may see trees as tall and imposing objects in our environment but they live and breathe too and they suffer alongside us from the elements. We are actually a little better off as we can hide in the comfort of our modern homes but trees can’t go anywhere and have to endure whatever nature throws at them all year round.
When trees pose a threat to our existence and we see them already beyond help, it makes more sense to have these trees removed. However, let the experts do it and refrain from doing it yourself because there are a lot of considerations that you need to be mindful of so contact http://www.allcleartree.com/removal for help before anything untoward happens to you, your home, or any of your properties.
The following blog article Trees Weather Ice Storms This Winter is republished from AllClearTree.com