Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Fog diminished by climate change threatens Muir Woods' majestic redwoods

Mark Prado in the Mercury News via the Marin Independent Journal (California): Thousands of people visit Muir Woods National Monument every year to take in its grand redwood trees, but climate change could dissipate the cooling, wet fog that enables those trees to grow to towering heights. And it's not only Muir Woods that's in the dangerous path of climate change. Researchers warn the phenomenon could bring peril to many of Marin's natural wonders in the coming years as weather conditions change.

"It's trees at Muir Woods. It's a concern about sea level rise at Fort Baker. It's many things," said Alex Picavet, spokeswoman for the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, part of the National Park Service. "But it's not only local. We are grappling with this across the country."

It could have no greater visible effect than in Muir Woods, where redwoods about 500 to 800 years old climb more than 200 feet toward the sky, providing a serene setting for visitors from Marin and around the world.

A report recently issued by the nonprofit National Parks Conservation Association concludes climate change could affect the formation and presence of fog along the entire Pacific Coast, and that in turn could stunt the giant redwoods. "It's a concern that has been floating around the park service: How do you deal with the fog issue?" said Neal Desai, associate director of the National Parks Conservation Association Pacific Region. "The redwoods at Muir Woods are the iconic trees, and the fog is their lifeblood."

Another recent report issued by the Rocky Mountain Climate Organization in Colorado looking at the impact on state parks comes to the same conclusion -- and says it's already happening.
It's fog that rolls over the trees and provides moisture -- nature's drip irrigation system -- that allows the redwoods to grow even in the driest of months. Branches covered with fine needles catch the fog's water particles, which then condense and fall to the forest floor below where their roots can absorb the water….

Redwood trees in Muir Woods, shot by Two+two=4, who has released the image into the public domain

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