Tree-Killing Beetles Spread into Northern U.S. Forests as Temperatures Rise
Southern pine beetles are among the most destructive insects invading North America's pine forests today, and they're spreading farther north as global temperatures rise, putting entire ecosystems at risk and creating fuel for wildfires as they kill the trees they infest. A new study shows the insects' range could reach Nova Scotia by 2020 and cover more than 270,000 square miles of forest from the upper Midwest to Maine and into Canada by 2080.
Winter cold snaps that once killed the beetles in their larval stage are becoming less frequent at the northern edge of the beetles' current range, which will allow them to multiply and spread into new territory quickly, the study's authors say.
Even if greenhouse gas emissions are cut drastically to the level envisioned by the Paris climate agreement, the level of heat-trapping pollution will still raise temperatures enough to continue to drive the spread of the beetles at least through 2050, according to the study, published this week in the journal Nature Climate Change. . .