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Cyclopath
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Cyclopath
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PostSun Aug 20, 2023 9:10 am 
Most of my favorite hikes take me above the tree line, probably yours too. You can see the peaks around you, the fall color is heavenly, etc. So this news will affect northwest hiking, not for the better. https://amp.theguardian.com/environment/2023/aug/19/mountain-treelines-rising-climate-crisis-study

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Lazyhiker
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PostSun Aug 20, 2023 9:38 am 
I was looking at the east side of Chiwawa ridge a few weeks back from Carne and you can clearly see that timberline has crept up with the disappearance of glaciers from LGP to Buck Mountain. The trees are more mature south by LGP and as the terrain gets higher and the remnant glacier pockets remain the trees are smaller growing on the old moraines.

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mossbackmax
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PostSun Aug 20, 2023 8:16 pm 
Thanks for sharing that article Cyclopath. This is a really important issue that I rarely hear discussed. Conifer encroachment into meadows is, in my opinion, just as destructive to the character of our beloved mountains as glacial recession. It would be an interesting project to dig up some historic photos and create comparative photo pairs, just like these (link1, link2) but to the ends of comparing treeline and meadow area changes rather than glacial recession. This UW masters thesis from 2006 has some interesting aerial photos (photos here, full text here) demonstrating these kinds of changes in the Oregon Cascades. Full disclosure - I haven't read this thesis in full, just the intro and figures. As for how this worldwide encroachment trend has/will effect the pnw, this paper published in 2021 concerning meadows around Mt Baker has some interesting findings. From the conclusion - "establishment [of conifer seedlings] was correlated with warmer temperatures and a longer growing season. At the site level, establishment at our wetter, snowier site was primarily limited by growing season length and was therefore positively correlated with temperature, particularly at the end of the growing season. Establishment at our more moisture limited site was positively correlated with precipitation. " This leads me to think that as our summers get hotter and hotter we'll likely see greater encroachment on westside meadows than eastside meadows, though I'd be interested to read a paper with similar methodologies done on meadows east of the crest. An aspect of this topic I'd like to learn more about is the role of fire regimes in Cascades/Olympic meadows. I've read that the tribes would use proscribed burns around treeline to encourage berry patches. Perhaps a side effect of this practice was suppression of the treeline? At the same time, it seems unlikely (but what do I know?) that the practice would have been widespread enough to affect the hundreds (thousands?) of miles of tree-meadow interface throughout the region.

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altasnob
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PostMon Aug 21, 2023 6:35 am 
Climate change is extending the growing season making trees grow in higher altitudes and encroach into meadows. But the more trees will absorb more carbon, which is supposed to negate climate change. But then climate change is causing more forest fires, which allows meadows to proliferate and helps to keep a lower timber line (which is what I thought people wanted?). I am so confused.

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JPH
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PostMon Aug 21, 2023 8:23 am 
Fire is definitely a wild card - 15 years ago you would have been walking through the woods here.
Delate
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Certainly not the same as a classic grassy meadow, but the views are still nice! It would be a bummer if hikes like Skyline Divide (by Baker) turned into a woods walk all the way to Hadley Peak.

mossbackmax
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Lazyhiker
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PostMon Aug 21, 2023 8:25 am 
Meadows are a transitional landscape, usually formed by fire and/or avalanches. They come and go, stasis isnít natural. The high elevation conifer growth is different and is resulting from warmer temperatures and glacial recessions, itís probably normal too if you consider a timeframe thatís hard for us to relate to.

treeswarper
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