National Geographic : 2012 Jul
PA OCE MEXICO U.S. CALIF. ALA NEVADA ARIZONA NE MEXIC PHOTO: REBECCA HALE, NGM STAFF. MAP: MAGGIE SMITH, NGM STAFF SOURCE: TONGLI WANG, CENTRE FOR FOREST CONSERVATION GENETICS, UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA Future Forests If global temperatures ris forests still flourish in their current ranges? Some scientists think not, s British Columbia---with assistance from the U.S. Forest Service---is now testing the climate tolerance of common and commercially valuable tree species in non-native habitats. The aim: to identify ones that can be moved into areas expected to be more hospitable in the future. Called assisted migration, the controversial approach presumes "evolution can't keep up with the rate of climate change, so it needs some help," says project head Greg O'Neill. Detractors of the increas- ingly studied forestry practice cite the risks of altering ecosystems. British Columbia has already extended the legal range in which timber companies can plant western larch seedlings. Other species, including Douglas fir and lodgepole pine, are being tested at sites spanning , miles, from Canada's Yukon to California. These will be monitored for 30 years to evaluate their survival. "One day we could rely on Washington's seed, Washington on Oregon's, and so on," says O'Neill. "It's a problem that knows no geographic boundaries." ---Luna Shyr The Hubble Space Telescope revealed a NEW TYPE OF PLANET made largely of water, with a thick, steamy atmosphere. • A SPIDERWEB'S ABILITY to withstand high stress is due partly to a design that allows a single filament to break away and leave the rest intact, say MIT scientists. • A Russian team has reached the surface of a MASSIVE SUBGLACIAL LAKE in Antarctica after some three decades of drilling. • A NASA- led study found that the EARTH SPUN FASTER during two weeks in 2009 due to a slowing ocean current. ET CETERA - 2080 projection Climate range, lodgepole pine 0mi 300 0km 300 NEXT Maps showing historical and projected areas where climate suits certain trees help foresters pick species for assisted-migration plan- ning. British Columbia is evaluating 15 kinds, includ- ing lodgepole pine (above).