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The World of Northern Evergreens$
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E. C. Pielou

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780801477409

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801477409.001.0001

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Global Warming and the Forests

Global Warming and the Forests

(p.143) Chapter 13 Global Warming and the Forests
The World of Northern Evergreens

E. C. Pielou

Cornell University Press

This chapter begins with a brief outline of the elementary physics of climate change. The increasing use of fossil fuels is adding to the natural concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere. Water vapor, CO2, and methane (CH4), in that order, are the three strongest natural greenhouse gases (GHGs), which are opaque to outgoing heat rays (infrared rays) from the surface of the sun-warmed earth. Acting together, the gases trap much of the sun's heat that would otherwise be radiated back to the sky. The discussion then turns to how rising temperatures affect forests. Rising temperatures in high northern latitudes, for instance, are lengthening the fire season in the evergreen forests and increasing the fire risk. A warmer climate with warmer winters is also having a marked effect on forest insects. The most spectacular example of this is the population explosion of pine bark beetles throughout the west.

Keywords:   climate change, global warming, greenhouse gases, forest fire, bark beetles

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