Pine Beetles are Altering Carbon Balance in Forests
An outbreak of mountain pine beetles in British Columbia is doing so much damage that by 2020, the forest is expected to release more carbon dioxide than it absorbs. Beetle outbreaks have affected 33 million acres of lodgepole pines in British Columbia and have killed huge swaths of pines in the western U.S.
The spread of these beetles was once controlled by colder and longer winters. Now, warmer winters can mean these beetles thrive, with damaging results.
As trees killed by the beetles start to decompose, they release carbon into the atmosphere, potentially exacerbating the global warming that contributed to the outbreak in the first place.