Forest Watch Documents Record Loss of White Pine Needles - an Indicator of Environmental Stress in Northern New England

Forest Watch Documents Record Loss of White Pine Needles - an Indicator of Environmental Stress in Northern New England

Feb 27, 2013

Data released this week by the UNH’s Forest Watch program show that 2010 marked the first time in 20 years of the program’s observations that white pines did not retain important older needles. Recent samples and measurements made by students and teachers may suggest that a new environmental stressor appeared in spring 2010 and has affected new needles that opened in 2010, 2011, and 2012.

“White pines usually keep healthy, green needles that contribute significantly to the photosynthetic process by the whole tree for two or three full years,” says Forest Watch founding director Barrett Rock of UNH’s Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans, and Space. “Something very serious is stressing the trees. Not since the early to mid-1990s, when ozone levels were extremely high, have we seen these kinds of measurements of stress in the pines.”

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Forest Watch conducts basic and applied research on New England forest ecosystems. Research data is collected by teachers and students (grades K-12), sampled from trees in their study plot.

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