Few landscapes are as harsh as Inyo National forest. The Dolomite rich soil of the White Mountains supports only the strongest plant life.
It’s the preferred territory for Bristlecone Pine Tree. It’s the world’s oldest tree. It’s also the of the Brian Smithers research.
“I have been driving this road for five years now. The tree line here got me excited because it’s a laboratory for climate change.” said Smithers.
The oldest Bristlecone roots date back 5,000 years making it the oldest living record of climate change.
The Bristlecone is the focus of Smithers Study which was published in the journal Global Change Biology. The PH. D Candidate found that the ancient tree has been heading for higher ground.
"The tree line is moving up and its due to climate change." said Smithers.
The Bristlecone pine has been hugging the snow line of the White mountains long before the Pyramid of Giza was build. It was unable to get closer to the mountain peak because it was too cold for seeds to grow.
The Bristlecone is not expanding its growing area. Its shifting it. Smithers visited Bristlecone Pine groves all over the Great Basin. He found very few seedlings growing naturally at low elevation.
“The temperature is too hot and dry for germination.” said Smithers.
To make matters worse other trees are encroaching on the Bristlecone pines territory. Birds are dropping other seedlings at higher altitude and a tree called the Limber Pine is growing at elevations it never has.
“They are leap frogging! Limber pine is now colonizing quicker than Bristlecone pine.” said Smithers.
Limber pine started growing in higher elevations about 100 years ago or shortly after the industrial revolution.
The Bristlecone is no stranger to climate change. Smithers says it has survived an ice age and other warming events.
" People want to say bristlecone pine is going extinct... I do not think that is what's happening." said Brian the established bristlecone will probably out live the human race but, we should be listening to what these wise trees are telling us." Climate change has happened species are moving we are getting warmer."
© 2017 KXTV-TV