Photos: 'Ghost forests' show the skeletons of dead trees as saltwater encroaches coastal areas

By Chaffin Mitchell, AccuWeather staff writer

Share this article:


As sea levels rise, saltwater is inching into wetlands and forests, killing trees and creating eerie ghost forests on coastlines worldwide.

With land and water constantly shifting, forests die and are buried in sediment and open water.

The seawater invades by filling the fresh water with salt, which is potent to trees along all coastlines. The salty water slowly poisons living trees, leaving a haunted ghost forest of dead and dying lumber.

This ghost forest near Girdwood, Alaska, is a remnant of the 1964 earthquake, which flooded this area with saltwater, killing the trees and leaving a 'ghost forest.' (Image via Peter Rintels)

A ghost forest on the mainland of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. (Twitter Photo/Jonathan Schechter/OaklandNature)

This July 16, 2017 photo shows a ghost forest near the Savannah River in Port Wentworth, Ga. Rising sea levels are killing trees along vast swaths of the North American coast by inundating them in salt water. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)

Ghost forest at Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge on June 11, 2014. (Photo/Kyle Derby, USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center. Public domain.)

When the Colorado River in Texas was dammed to form Inks Lake, a forest was immersed in water which killed it. That resulted in a ghost forest. (Photo/Wing-Chi Poon)

A ghost forest on Capers Island, South Carolina. (Photo/NOAA.gov)

A picture taken on October 16, 2017 of a ghost forest in Nags Head Woods, North Carolina. (Photo/NC Wetlands)

In this July 16, 2017, photo, the sun rises on a ghost forest near the Savannah River in Port Wentworth, Ga. Rising sea levels are killing trees along vast swaths of the North American coast by inundating them in salt water. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)

Ghost forest formed from the 1964 magnitude 9.2 earthquake. (Photo/USGS)

Brian Atwater, far right, leads a 2008 field trip to a ghost forest along the Copalis River, Washington—a stand of trees that died when their roots were submerged in seawater by subsidence of the ground during a tsunami-generating earthquake in 1700. (Photo/USGS)

Trunks of forest trees above the Sandy River, Oregon, at Oxbow Regional Park, were buried by rapid deposition of sediment following a 1781 eruption at Mount Hood. Erosion later exposed this ghost forest. (Photo/Thomas C Pierson, USGS)

A ghost forest near Seward, Alaska. (Photo/USGS)


Ghost forests can also form after a tsunami or when a major earthquake lowers the trees into the ground. The saltwater incursion into the woods kills the trees and helps preserve them.

When an earthquake hits, saltwater rushes into the subsided land, poisoning all the plants. Over time, the now-dead forest can trap mud and saltwater-friendly plants slowly build new land around the eerie dead woodland.

Sea Level Rise Ghost Forests

This July 16, 2017, photo shows a ghost forest near the Savannah River in Port Wentworth, Ga. Rising sea levels are killing trees along vast swaths of the North American coast by inundating them in salt water. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)


The decaying trees of a ghost forest usually look like giant gray pillars without branches or leafs.


During an earthquake in 1964 in Girdwood, Anchorage, Alaska, the bedrock dropped nine feet, causing the mud, trees and everything else to drop. Once the tides swept in, trees were inundated with saltwater, soaking their roots and creating today’s Girdwood Ghost Forest.

The Neskowin Ghost Forest was unearthed on the Oregon coast of the United States after a series of storms hit the area in the winter of 1997. Scientists say it was most likely created when an earthquake lowered the trees then were covered by mud from landslides or debris from a tsunami.

The stumps of the Neskowin Ghost Forest have been estimated to be approximately 2,000 years old, and are believed to have stood 150-200 feet high when they were alive.

The Mississippi Delta region of Louisiana is also now changing due to rising waters, the sinking of earth's crust and sediments compacting along the Mississippi River.

RELATED:
How the moon and seasons plays a role in paranormal activity
How temperature plays a role in ghost hunting
Do thunderstorms affect paranormal activity?
Top weather phobias explored: Millions of Americans experience these weather fears
Eerie video shows forest ‘breathing’ and it's freaking people out
"Pumpkin stars:" Halloween treat from the cosmos

Some of North Carolina’s maritime forests have also been transformed from lively greenery to spooky remnants of a forest.

Report a Typo

Comments

Comments that don't add to the conversation may be automatically or manually removed by Facebook or AccuWeather. Profanity, personal attacks, and spam will not be tolerated.

More Weather News