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Posted Sat Aug 29 2009: from Chronicle Herald (Canada):
Bugs, fire twin threat in a warming world
"As far as the eye can see, it's all infested," forester Rob Legare said, looking out over the thick woods of the Alsek River valley. Beetles and fire, twin plagues, are consuming northern forests in what scientists say is a preview of the future, in a century growing warmer, as the land grows drier, trees grow weaker and pests, abetted by milder winters, grow stronger. Dying, burning forests would then only add to the warming.... While average temperatures globally rose 0.74 degrees Celsius in the past century, the far north experienced warming at twice that rate or greater. And "eight of the last 10 summers have been extreme wildfire seasons in Siberia," American researcher Amber Soja pointed out by telephone from central Siberia.... American forest ecologist Scott Green worries about a "domino effect."... Flannigan worries, too, that future fires smouldering through the carbon-heavy peatlands that undergird much of the boreal region would pour unparalleled amounts of carbon dioxide, the main global-warming gas, into the skies, feeding an unstoppable cycle.
[Read more stories about: forests, deforestation, death spiral, weather extremes]

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