Photos: 'Ghost forests' show the skeletons of dead trees as saltwater encroaches coastal areas
By Chaffin Mitchell, AccuWeather staff writer
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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.
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.
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.
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Some of North Carolina’s maritime forests have also been transformed from lively greenery to spooky remnants of a forest.
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