My worst global warming fear: buckeyes in Ann Arbor

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 14:53 GMT le 10 février 2012

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Last week, I blogged about how wintertime minimum temperatures in the U.S. have risen so much in recent decades, that the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) had to update their Plant Hardiness Zone Map for gardeners for the first time since 1990. The Plant Hardiness Zone Map is the standard by which gardeners and growers can determine which plants are most likely to thrive at a location. I got to looking at the new zone map for Ann Arbor, Michigan, where I live, and saw how we've shifted one 5-degree Fahrenheit half-zone warmer. Ann Arbor used to be in Zone 5, but is now solidly in the warmer Zone 6. This got me to wondering, what sort of plants in Zone 6, until now rare or unknown in Ann Arbor, might migrate northwards in coming decades into the city? Then, with a sudden chill, I contemplated a truly awful possibility: The Ohio Buckeye Tree.


Figure 1. Comparison of the 1990 and 2012 USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Maps. Image credit: USDA and Arbor Day Foundation.

Buckeyes in Ann Arbor? The Horror!
For those of you unfamiliar the the buckeye tree, it is the emblem of Ohio State University. The Buckeyes of Ohio State have one of the most fierce rivalries in sports with that "school up north", the University of Michigan. As someone who spent twelve years of my life as a student at the University of Michigan, the thought of Buckeye trees in Ann Arbor is not one I care to contemplate. But the USDA Forest Service has published a Climate Change Tree Atlas which predicts that the most favorable habitat for the Ohio Buckeye Tree can be expected to move northwards with a warming climate. While they give their model for the Buckeye Tree a rating of "low reliability", it is nonetheless chilling to contemplate the potential infestation of Ann Arbor with this loathsome invader. I can only sadly predict that to stem the invasion, non-ecologically-minded University of Michigan students will unleash genetically engineered wolverines that eat buckeye seeds.


Figure 2. Potential changes in the mean center of distribution of the Ohio Buckeye tree. The green oval shows the current center of the range of the Buckeye Tree, well to the south of Ann Arbor. In a scenario where humans emit relatively low amounts of heat-trapping gases like carbon dioxide (light blue oval), the most favorable climate for the Buckeye Tree edges into Southern Michigan, and marches into Ann Arbor under the medium and high scenarios for emissions (other ovals.) Image credit: USDA Forest Service Climate Change Tree Atlas.

Libyan snowstorm triggered major Saharan dust storm
On February 6, a rare snow storm hit North Africa, bringing 2 - 3 inches of snow to Tripoli, Libya. It was the first snow in Tripoli since at least 2005, and may be the heaviest snow the Libyan capital has seen since February 6, 1956. The storm responsible for the North African snow also had strong winds that kicked up a tremendous amount of dust over Algeria during the week. This dust became suspended in a flow of air moving to the southwest, and is now over the Atlantic Ocean.


Figure 3. Dust storm on February 7, 2012, off the coast of West Africa, spawned by a storm that brought snow to North Africa on February 6. Note the beautiful vorticies shed by the Cape Verde Islands, showing that the air is flowing northeast to southwest. The red squares mark where fires are burning in West Africa. Image credit: NASA.

Have a great weekend, everyone, and I'll be back Monday with a new post.

Jeff Masters

BUCKEYE BIRTH (WHIPPME)
NO SILLY NOT THE FOOTBALL TEAM .......THE REAL THING
BUCKEYE BIRTH

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20. auburn (Mod)
We Love our Kudzu in Alabama..We have to..you cant kill or outrun the stuff...
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This could be the beginnings of an active storm for a good part of the U.S.
Member Since: 27 septembre 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 22585
Quoting ozprof:
A really strange thing happened here in Lubbock last night. The sky went a funny gray colour and the stars disappeared. Then this strange wet stuff started falling from the sky. Only lasted about 15 minutes, but it was weird nontheless. Anybody know what was happening? :-)
Rain..? lol
Member Since: 27 septembre 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 22585
The Buckeyes might make it to the the great state of Michigan. They are a hearty and persistent species... National Champions : 1942, 1954, 1957, 1961, 1968, 1970, 2002
Big Ten Champions :1916, 1917, 1920, 1935, 1939, 1942, 1944, 1949, 1954, 1955, 1957, 1961, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1979, 1981, 1984, 1986, 1993, 1996, 1998, 2002, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009
OAC Champions :1906, 1912
Member Since: 27 septembre 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 22585
i don't know about the validity of concern with Buckeye migration, but European Buckthorns have ruined every cool forest i enjoyed as a kid. that was back in the 80's... started learning about the species in the 90's and helped weed them out at a local park. that was when it was manageable, now the forests have a Buckthorn grown about 10"-15" apart completely choking once pleasant trails among Aspen stands and Oak trees. it is very sad.
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The MidWest Drought that will Likely occur this summer, because of top soil dry out from lack of Snow, might just destroy the Buckeyes and Wolverines to the point that maybe the NCAA should place both on Probation indefinitely until the Climate may change in their favor of survival. The mass exit of such pest in this case would be welcome tho just my on opinion tho!
Member Since: 2 septembre 2007 Posts: 179 Comments: 20448
Quoting ozprof:
A really strange thing happened here in Lubbock last night. The sky went a funny gray colour and the stars disappeared. Then this strange wet stuff started falling from the sky. Only lasted about 15 minutes, but it was weird nontheless. Anybody know what was happening? :-)


bleach? xD
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A really strange thing happened here in Lubbock last night. The sky went a funny gray colour and the stars disappeared. Then this strange wet stuff started falling from the sky. Only lasted about 15 minutes, but it was weird nontheless. Anybody know what was happening? :-)
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maybe you should send some of them Ohio buckeyes southwards to north Carolina. The Wolfpack would tear em apart lol
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Thanks, Jeff, for this very informative and fascinating post! Being a gardener, I pay close attention to the Plant Hardiness Zone Map. I know nothing about football, but I understand the rivalries between some teams because I grew up in Tallahassee, home of the FSU Seminoles. They have an intense rivalry with the Florida Gators! With this climate change, I'm sure a much larger number of Gators will also be migrating north into Seminole country.
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I would also suggest the HOOSIER TREE can Migrate faster than a silly buckeye tree, as its Pollen can shoot from a very far distance!
Member Since: 2 septembre 2007 Posts: 179 Comments: 20448
M Go Blue!! You can always chop down a Buckeye Tree....
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8. JeffMasters (Admin)
Quoting Inyo:
ahahahaha... well don't forget that there is a lot that can happen and precip limits trees as much as temperature. The trees may just march north or maybe increasing extremes will keep it south. I am just hoping we get enough cold to get the hemlock woolly adelgid out of Vermont!


Beware the northwards march of the kudzu in Vermont--it will die when lows hit -22°F, so you need to keep your coldest nights below that threshold.

Jeff Masters




BURR....
Member Since: 2 septembre 2007 Posts: 179 Comments: 20448
I can only sadly predict that to stem the invasion, non-ecologically-minded University of Michigan students will unleash genetically engineered wolverines that eat buckeye seeds.

Wait till the PETA groupies digest this story and prophecy of NEEDS......OMG.....LOL!
Member Since: 2 septembre 2007 Posts: 179 Comments: 20448
ahahahaha... well don't forget that there is a lot that can happen and precip limits trees as much as temperature. The trees may just march north or maybe increasing extremes will keep it south. I am just hoping we get enough cold to get the hemlock woolly adelgid out of Vermont!
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You can thank Urban Meyer for the Buckeyes taking over.
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Too funny! So much for the Wolverines as the Buckeyes are taking over. LOL
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Great post, with the recent coaching changes this rivalry could get even fiercer.
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NICE update......but fear the Hoosier Tree also....LOL
Member Since: 2 septembre 2007 Posts: 179 Comments: 20448

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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.

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