Can California’s redwood trees survive global warming?

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Some research suggests redwood trees may start to thrive in Oregon as the climate warms along the West Coast. @bberwyn photo.

Latest study suggests giant trees can persist along central coast, at least for a while

Staff Report

Redwood trees in California face an uncertain climate future, but some of the latest research suggests they’ll be able to persist in the coastal mountains south of San Francisco. And suitable climate conditions for the giant trees may expand northward in to Oregon, according to a new study published in Global Change Biology.

The research focused on the central California coast, where Redwoods are protected in a series of 14 parks, including the Santa Cruz Mountains, Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park south of Carmel, and Garrapata State Park between Carmel and Big Sur on the Monterey coast.“Coast redwoods have endured climatic changes over thousands of years. We are encouraged by our … research, which shows that redwood trees continue to grow, even under warmer conditions, and will thrive further north into Oregon,” said Paul Ringgold, Chief Program Officer for San Francisco-based Save the Redwoods League, the land trust which catalyzed the study under its Redwoods and Climate Change Initiative (RCCI). “These key findings help us better understand the future impacts of climate change and how to manage for these impacts on our redwood forests.”

The study also showed that the redwood bioclimate will expand northward by 34 percent from the coast of California into southern Oregon.

Redwoods will still exist in the most vulnerable areas, while continued research on changing redwood bioclimate will help us identify and address redwood forest regeneration challenges. Moreover, locally unique weather patterns such as fog may influence projected climate trends in the future,” Ringgold said.

 

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