A new study found the spread of ghost forests across a coastal region of North Carolina may have implications for global warming.
A new study found the spread of ghost forests across a coastal region of North Carolina may have implications for global warming. Ghost forests are areas where rising seas have killed off freshwater-dependent trees, leaving dead or dying white snags standing in marsh.
The study found that the transition from forest to marsh along the coastline of the Albemarle-Pamlico Peninsula led to a significant loss in the amount of carbon stored in the plants and trees above ground. When released into the atmosphere as a gas, carbon can contribute to global warming. However, researchers also uncovered some ways landowners can offset some of those carbon losses.
“Many people think about sea-level rise as being more of a long-term threat,” said the study’s lead author Lindsey Smart, a research associate at the North Carolina State University Center for Geospatial Analytics. “But we’re actually seeing significant changes over shorter time periods because of this interaction between gradual sea-level rise and extreme weather events like hurricanes or droughts, which can bring salt water further inland.”
In the study, researchers tracked the spread of ghost forests across 2,485 square miles on the peninsula. They found that on unmanaged, or natural, land such as publicly owned wildlife areas, ghost forests spread across 15 percent of the area between 2001 and 2014.
Read more at North Carolina State University
Photo Credit: NC Wetlands from Raleigh, NC via Wikimedia Commons