Dead among the living trees in a California forest. August 24, 2016. Photo: USFS Region 5
New aerial photography of the US Forest service have increased the scale of the tragedy from the unprecedented drought that hit California in the last five years. Especially in 2016. According to new data, the number of dead trees has increased by 36 million units compared to the previous aerial survey in may 2016.
Thus, the total amount of forest loss in 2010 increased to 102 million trees. This of 3.11 million hectares of dried land, i.e. one third of the total forest cover of the state. Only in one 2016 killed 62 million trees.
In recent years, the surface of the planet heats up quickly. Almost every month registered new temperature records. According to climate models, the temperature is unevenly distributed on the surface of the planet. In some areas there may be a little cold — and in the other a sharp warming much above the average.
Under the Paris agreement of 2015, under the UN framework Convention on climate change countries have agreed to reduce CO2 emissions with the goal of keeping warming below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels, as well as "efforts to limit the temperature rise within 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels. But the global average temperature increase of 2 °C means a significantly larger increase in average temperatures in certain regions. While daily highs reach extreme values. This trend seriously threatens the Mediterranean climate, including Spain and southern Italy, where forests may disappear. California was also affected by the extremum of the function. Only here the threat of drought is not hypothetical, but really came to life.
The U.S. forest service notes that in addition to the 102 million of trees completely destroyed, millions more weakened and most likely will die in the coming months and years.
Dead and surviving trees. 23 Aug 2016. Photo: USFS Region 5
American foresters are trying to restore the damage as possible. Additional funds allocated to forest restoration in priority areas: along roads and highways, in places of recreation. But experts admit that the efforts are not enough to fight with the forces of nature. Mortality of trees continues much faster than we are able to restore the plantations.
And planted trees require decades to grow. Suffer from drought, the trees located in the lowlands, which for the first time faced with a shortage of moisture: "we Have a sugar pine the great trees live for 500 years, says Adrian Das (Adrian Das), environmental and Geological services of the USA. Now wherever you go, in certain parts of the forest at least half of these giants is dead."
The situation is aggravated by the budget deficit in California, which does not allow for a truly mass campaign of tree planting and additional activities on clearing the forest of dead wood. The state government collecting the money from foresters and redistribute in favor of the firefighters, so on clearing, planting and restoration of the forest remains less resources.
This year the number of fires was record. Only in California is totally burned out of 12.1 thousand hectares of forest. Evacuated 80 000 people in the southwest USA area of fires exceeded 48,6 thousand hectares.
At the same time, the presence of millions of dead, dry and damaged trees increases the risk of new fires and prevents them from effectively to extinguish them. That is, the power struggle is not with the cause, but the consequence of allocating more money to the firemen, but not by putting a priority on clearing the forest of dead wood.
In addition, dead wood and falling trees increase the number of incidents of human injury and property damage. According to the California program of the falling of trees of mid-October 2016 was already 5902 such incidents, compared to 2587 in the "normal" 2010.
The forest service hopes that the state Congress would adopt amendments to the budget, to avoid further transfers to the firemen at the expense of foresters. Last year firefighters were allocated 56% of the total budget of the Forest service, and if the situation does not change, then the next years it will grow even more.
A large part of the dead forest is located in the Central and southern Sierra Nevada. Experts say about the significant mortality of the woods yet and some Northern regions. The unprecedented scale of the extinction of forests due to five continuous years of drought increase in average temperature, decrease in snow cover in the mountains and a sharp increase in lesions of the bark.
Dead and surviving trees. August 24, 2016. Photo: USFS Region 5
In connection with the mass extinction of forests in California in 2015, the state Governor declared a state of emergency and formed a special service of Tree Mortality Task Force (task force of mortality of trees) to help to mobilize additional resources for the safe removal of deadwood.
In the new climate conditions long seasons of heat became normal. Because of this need to dramatically increase spending on the protection of forests from fires, including for laying firebreaks, protection of watershed and forest restoration.
A state of emergency in California is still maintained. In some places rain has not already been 95 days. For the next two weeks are projected Sunny weather, although in some areas yesterday passed the long-awaited rains.