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Lessening fog may hurt California redwoods

  • 17 February 2010
  • Written by 
  • Published in Climate
Fog has been decreasing during the summer months along the Pacific coast of the United States. According to new U.S. research, this climate change over the past century may be hurting the California redwood trees.



The 2.15.2010 Mongabay.com article 'Decline in fog threatens California's iconic redwood ecosystems' states, 'A surprising new study finds that during the past century the frequency of fog along California's coast has declined by approximately three hours a day'¦. [T]he researchers are concerned that this decrease in fog threatens California's giant redwoods and the unique ecosystem they inhabit.'

U.S. environmental scientists James Johnstone and Todd Dawson, both from the University of California at Berkeley, have been studying summer fog along the Pacific coast of the United States with respect to its affect on the California redwood.

Johnstone is a postdoctoral scholar at UC-Berkeley's Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management (ESPM).

Their paper, titled 'Context and ecological implications of summer fog decline in the coast redwood region" appears in the journal Proceedings of the National Academies of Science (PNAS).

They identified a 33% decrease in the frequency of fog along the California coast between the years 1901 to 2008.

Native to this area in coastal California is the California redwood (Sequoia sempervirens, or coast redwood).

Learn more about the California redwood, and its problems with lessening fog in California on page two.




The California redwood is among the longest living and tallest species of trees found on Earth.

They can live for up to 2,200 years and grow to heights of 379 feet (116 meters) and diameters (breast height) of 26 feet (8 meters).

The California redwood is sometimes also called a sequoia, which is a general term for the subfamily Sequoioideae, which includes this species, along with the Giant Sequoia (Sequoiadendron giganteum) and Dawn Redwood (Metasequoia glyptostroboides).

The U.S. researchers contend that the trees use summer fog to soak up and conserve water during the arid months of the year.

However, with less fog appearing in the summer, the trees are adversely affected (it stresses them out) when they have less moisture stored up during very dry months of the year.

For additional information concerning this study of fog in coastal California and the California sequoias, please read the 2.15.2010 National Geographic Daily News article 'Giant Redwoods May Dry Out; Warming to Blame?

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