Expert Weighs in On How Climate Change Will Affect Ohio’s Wildlife

Recent developments in climatology have revealed quite a bit about the state of our planet if human production of fossil fuels continues on its current track. Scientists have recently begun focusing on ways that climate change is harming particular regions, as most prior discussions in the popular media have been centered around the way climate change can impact the planet as a whole.

Dr. Katie Stuble, the Director of Research at Holden Forests & Gardens, said the following about what sort of effects climate change will have on Ohio in particular. “Ohio has gotten warmer over the last century. At the same time, patterns of precipitation have changed, generally becoming more erratic with longer dry periods interspersed with more intense rain events. The current rate of warming is the fastest ever documented, and is expected to increase in the coming decades. These changes are having big impacts on our ecosystems.”

Climate change is having a severe impact on which natural populations are getting displaced, with species moving further north and spring arriving much earlier than it otherwise would have.

“These sorts of changes are having important impacts on Ohio’s forests. For example, we’re seeing trees in Ohio’s forests green-up earlier in the spring, which likely has important consequences for other parts of the forest, including forest wildflowers.” Says Dr. Stuble

Invasive species have been appearing throughout the forests of Ohio as well, including the hemlock woolly adelgid. “This invasive insect feeds on hemlock trees, often killing them over the course of several years. The hemlock woolly adelgid has been responsible for the devastation of hemlock forests in the south, but wasn’t present in northeastern Ohio until several years ago. It is likely that warmer winters have created a more hospitable environment for the invasive hemlock woolly adelgid, which now threaten our hemlock trees. These sorts of changes have the potential to impact the biodiversity of our forests, as well as their function.”

The development of climate change in the state has drastic impacts on humans as well, with the potentiality for many natural resources that we rely on to diminish in their ability to help us and to better fight climate change.

“Forests are hugely important in providing key services to humans, including clean air and water. Critically, forests serve as some of our most important natural solutions to climate change, with the capacity to sequester huge amounts of carbon.  So, to the extent that warming will likely change the structure and function of forests, their capacity to combat climate change may be affected.”