Study documents tree species' decline due to climate warming

ANCHORAGE, Alaska  — A study documenting mortality of yellow cedar trees in Alaska and British Columbia concludes the future is gloomy for the species valued for its commercial and cultural uses.

The study recorded death due to root freeze on 7 percent of the tree's range. Researchers say additional mortality is likely over the next 50 years as the climate warms.

Climate models project a transition from snow to more rain where yellow cedar now thrives.

The study says that without an insulating blanket of snow, spring freezing events will penetrate deeper into the soil, killing yellow cedar's shallow roots.

Lead author Brian Buma of the University of Alaska Southeast says winter temperatures in about 50 percent of the areas now suitable for yellow cedar are expected to switch from snow to more rain.