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Mystery Tree Decline may be finally Solved

February 3, 2012; 12:18 PM ET

The Yellow Cedar, which is a valuable, slow-growing and long-living tree that grows from southeastern Alaska through parts of British Columbia has been mysteriously declining in large areas across this region for the past 100 years.

Image Credit: Colin Shanley, The Nature Conservancy.

Scientists have finally determined the cause as a form of root freezing, which occurs during cold weather in late winter/early spring when snow is not present on the ground.

The researchers state that spring snow levels in the region have been reduced by climate change.

Yellow Cedar decline in Alaska.

Yellow-cedar decline affects about 60 to 70 percent of trees in forests covering 600,000 acres in Alaska and British Columbia. The paper, "Shifting Climate, Altered Niche, and a Dynamic Conservation Strategy for Yellow-Cedar in the North Pacific Coastal Rainforest," summarizes 30 years of research. (via EurekAlert)

Attention is now directed toward a solution to protect and manage yellow-cedar, as coastal Alaska is expected to experience less snow but a persistence of periodic cold weather events in the future, according to EurekAlert.

Long-term multidisciplinary research was needed to determine the true role of climate in the health of yellow-cedar and untangle it from other processes and natural cycles in forests, according to the EurekAlert article.

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You can read the actual paper online right here.

The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of AccuWeather, Inc. or AccuWeather.com

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