New Mexico conifer forests gone by 2050: Scientist

The pine forests of New Mexico have been around since the Pleistocene, but they're not going to be around much longer, according to a scientist named Nate McDowell at the Los Alamos National Laboratory.

For as long as there have been forests, there have been droughts,” [McDowell] said. “But the droughts we’re experiencing now are very novel because they’re warmer.”

And after just a year monitoring the trees [in his experiment duplicating a future climate], McDowell has come to a sobering conclusion: Within about 40 years, most of New Mexico’s pine, juniper and pinon trees will have dried up and died out.

“(By) about year 2050, we shouldn’t have conifer forests in the Southwest,” he said.

Certainly the idea that the heat waves are getting hotter makes sense. McDowell phrases the idea of drought and heat in a way I hadn't heard before from a scientist, but it makes a lot of sense:

“Warmer air can hold more water,” McDowell said. “So the more water it can hold, the more it will suck out of the Earth.”

Could use some cool air around here myself.  

Published by Kit Stolz

I'm a freelance reporter and writer based in Ventura County.

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