To the list of ways climate change is slowly but surely rewriting the world as we know it, add “making forests less awesome.” A new study suggests that since the 1930s California has lost half of its biggest trees — those with a trunk over two feet in diameter — even in forests protected from logging and development. The study corroborates earlier findings that Yosemite’s pines are growing to smaller average sizes.
The researchers believe climate change is a major factor. Dwindling snowpack and rising temperatures mean plants have unreliable water supplies during the dry season, and they also lose water at a higher rate. Less water means trees aren’t growing as big.