Climate change will impact Colorado’s colorful aspens, NCSU study

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RALEIGH – Along three scenic drives through Colorado’s Rocky Mountains in fall, tourists will see less of a brilliant golden tree in the next 100 years, researchers from North Carolina State University projected in a new study.
Using computer modeling, researchers simulated how the distribution of quaking aspen, or Populus tremuloides, a native tree known for its brilliant yellow and orange foliage in fall and the sound of its trembling leaves, will change amid rising temperatures over the next 100 years.
They predicted quaking aspens will decline in visibility in 2120 under climate warming scenarios. Visibility will also decline along three scenic national byways in the Colorado Rockies – even if climate conditions remain at historical levels. They saw the greatest declines in the visible landscape areas.

“Aspen are sensitive to drought and warming temperatures, and empirically we are already starting to see declines,” said the study’s senior author Jelena Vukomanovic, assistant professor in the NC State Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management. “Even if we keep current conditions, we will see declines in aspen. But under worsening climate change, the decline in aspen will be worse.”
In the study, researchers modeled the distribution of quaking aspen trees visible under three scenarios: …

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