"Fall Colors Fade In U.S. West As Aspen Trees Die"

"SALMON, Idaho -- The American West is losing its autumn colors as global warming begins to bite and there is far more at stake than iconic scenery.

Aspen, the white-barked trees with golden leaves that gave their name to the famed Colorado ski resort, have been dying off across the Rocky Mountain states. The die-off is puzzling but some foresters point to climate change.

This disaster coincides with beetle outbreaks that have laid waste to millions of acres of pine and spruce forest in the American and Canadian west. They too have been linked to warmer winters since extremely cold temperatures are needed to kill the insects.

Recent droughts and other factors linked to global warming are seen as likely causes for 'sudden aspen decline,' or SAD, so named because it can strike a forest so quickly."

Laura Zuckerman reports for Reuters September 4, 2009.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009