As if suffering through its worst drought in recorded history wasn’t bad enough for California’s limited supply of fresh water, now it looks like even the state’s tree are starting to threaten the availability of water.
Scientists who have been working in California’s Sierra Nevada mountain range have noticed that trees are starting to grow at much higher altitudes than before. This is due the fact that the climate in these areas is starting to become warmer. Areas of the Sierra Nevada that were too cold for trees to grown in previously are now covered in newly emerging forests.
All of these new trees and other plant life are consuming massive amounts of water which would normally flow down into the mountain range’s western rivers. These rivers are a major source of fresh water for the people of California, and their output could be slashed by around a quarter by the end of the century.
This is all according to a recent study that was published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The research was done by two scientists from the University of California. It is the first study to examine the threats that the increased forestation of the Sierra Nevada pose to the residents of California.
“It’s a study that goes in there and says, ‘Could this be a big effect?’” said Michael Goulden, an associate professor at the University of California at Irvine, one of the paper’s coauthors. “Yeah, this could definitely be a big effect.”
Read more about the story at National Geographic.