Whitebark Pine and Global Warming

One thing I wanted to emphasize about NRDC’s Petition to protect whitebark pine under the Endangered Species Act is that, even putting aside the problems of blister rust, mountain pine beetles, and destructive fire management regimes, global warming itself will likely lead to a significant range contraction for the species.  Several published studies have predicted widespread declines in whitebark pine in response to climatic warming, but this picture of projected whitebark pine distribution from the present (“a”) to 2090 (“d”) illustrates the problem better than any abstract:

whitebark pine range contraction

Modeled bioclimate profile of whitebark pine, Pinus albicaulis, for the present (a) and predicted climate for decades 2030 (b), 2060 (c) and 2090 (d) under climate change scenario using an average of Hadley and CCC GCM scenarios of 1% per year increase GGa. Black indicates location of pixels receiving ≥ 50% proportion of votes in favor of being within the climate profile.

(Source: Warwell, M. V., G. E. Rehfeldt and N. L. Crookston. 2007. Modeling contemporary climate profiles of whitebark pine (Pinus albicaulis) and predicting responses to global warming. Proceedings of the conference Whitebark pine: a pacific coast perspective. USDA Forest Service R6-NR-FHP-2007-01.)

About the Authors

Andrew Wetzler

Deputy Chief Program Officer

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