Climate Change And The Adirondacks: A Bleak Future?

While scientists debate global warming and its connection to carbon emissions, a projected increase in temperatures in the Adirondack Park could mean winters with less ice and snow and the eventual loss of spruce-fir forests and the alpine tundra.

These stunning conclusions are contained in a must read story in the New York Times, which features an extensive interview with Jerry Jenkins, an ecologist with the Wildlife Conservation Society. From the Times:

A rise of 10 degrees in temperature would put the six-million-acre state park, a mix of public and private lands, in the same climate zone as the mountains of North Carolina and Georgia. So while Mr. Jenkins pursues his field studies and lectures, he also makes time to capture the present, taking some 30,000 photographs in recent years.

“Maybe it’s a baseline measurement, or maybe it’s an elegy,” Mr. Jenkins, 68, said of his photographic record of alpine flowers and mighty pines. “We may be the last generation to see the big bogs and the boreal creatures.”

More from the Times:

A major study of the impact of climate change on New York State drew similar conclusions. In a 600-page report published last month, scientists from Cornell and Columbia Universities, as well as the City University of New York, said that temperatures would rise as much as nine degrees by the 2080s. They also projected the decline and eventual loss of spruce-fir forests and alpine tundra in the Adirondacks.

Mr. Jenkins has yet to detect signs of stress in trees and plants, which respond slowly to alterations in temperature. Northern mammals like moose and pine martens are holding steady, though they, too, are sure to suffer. “They are both at their thermal limits here,” he said.