Thursday, January 24, 2008
Mountain pine beetle in Washington State
Warmer winters attributed to climate change have been implicated in the massive Mountain pine beetle (MPB) outbreaks in British Columbia. Research identified a ‘range shift' for the MPB consistent with a shift of the -40ºC mean annual minimum winter temperature isotherm. Eastern Washington forests also have been increasingly impacted by outbreaks of Mountain Pine Beetle, but climate records do not support the hypothesis that the Eastern Washington outbreaks are coincident with a similar shift in the -40ºC mean annual minimum winter temperature isotherm. Rather, increasing MPB mortality in eastern Washington is correlated with increasing summer temperature and its effect on vapor pressure deficit (VPD). Increasing VPD can increase host susceptibility to MPB, resulting in similar outbreak patterns to those found under warmer winter conditions.
Elaine Oneil holds a postdoctoral position with the Rural Technology Initiative, College of Forest Resources, University of Washington. Her research has looked at the complexities of forest health, climate impacts, carbon accounting, and timber supply modeling for Inland West forests.