Saturday, June 8, 2013

Climate Change, Warming, Shifting ????

photo: Mine
While on my trip to the USA for the last two months, there were some oddities I did take note of which I stumbled upon quite by accident. I say accident because I was not purposefully looking for them. While since I was a kid growing up in the 1960s, there were always one of two examples of volunteered southwestern native Palo Verde Trees along some roadsides and fence lines here and there, but not overly extreme or invasive to speak about. My trip here this time I took note of hundreds of them popping up everywhere through the areas of San Diego and Riverside Counties I traveled through. Mind you, I have no problem with them, if somethings got to provide an invasive increase into areas not formerly occupied, why not a local Southwestern Native. What became the final nail in the coffin so to speak was when I passed by an area north of Escondido along the Interstate 15 Freeway on the south bound side just before the Center City Parkway exit. Take a look below. These trees were not just along the roadside which BTW is a most common sight everywhere, but these groups of trees were actually making inroads of progress far up the slope and deep into the local chaparral plant community.

Credit: Mine
Credit: Mine

I had no time to hiking up into the slope to view further, but I suppose a clearer full view picture from the Highway Median or opposite north bound lanes would have given a better overall perspective. Still if something has to invade, why not the beautiful Native of the S.D. County deserts ? And yet that is what got me thinking about another evidence of a climate shift which may be helping this along. There is another examples below.

The next plant subject is the California Sycamore back up in Anza California at my old property. I always had issues with late freezes and severe die back as a result. Cal Sycamores are very frost sensitive if already in full leaf foliage. Recovery is very lame for the rest of that particular year. There are of course exceptions of those higher elevation Sycamore trees which have resent their bud break thermostat for a later bloom period. For example there is a California Sycamore tree  which is located in the creek bed next to the Butterfield Stage Stop at the Hwy Jct of 79 & San Felipe Road (S-2). The genetics here would have been a better choice than the coastal breed I brought up from down below near San Juan Capistrano, California. The south face of Cahuilla Mountain there is a small Arroyo with some very large Sycamore specimens just outside of the Lake Riverside Estates' northern fence boundary. Those may be good seed sources. Another area of potential seed source would be the Sycamore Groves back over in Terwilliger at Tule Canyon Creek. Although Anza does have several micro-climate anomalies, with Terwilliger being a sort of Banana Belt. Idyllwild also has such an area and folks there know it as Double View. Still whether or not a tree grown from seed from these other regions like Terwilliger to Table Mountain could only be proven by testing the theory out. Still, it would be fun.

Credit: Mine
I've referenced this picture before for a number  of different reasons, but the last time I did,  I pointed out the terrible looking shape that  the California Sycamore Tree on the left hand  side of the photo was in. This tree was purchased  in 1986 as a one gallon seedling from Tree of Life Nursery in San Juan Capistrano,  California. Of course the seed source was from local San Juan Creek where it's particular  genetic engineering would have adapted it to climate conditions nearer to the coast. The problem for me with this tree was the constant battle with late freezes in late May and sometimes  early June. When that happens (and it can occur anywhere in So-Cal), the leaves almost all  fry. Recovery of any leaves is minuscule at best  and certainly there is no real new branch or twig growth. Hence, almost every year the height of  the tree stays neutral with never any true progress for decades. This photo above was taken in July of 2011 and you can see that year's damage and lack of any real recovery.

Credit: Mine
This photograph here is now two years later and was taken in early May of 2013 This is the same tree of July 2011 picture referenced above and next to my Son's old Club House his Uncle Bob built for him in the 1990s. The present owner of the property said  that they also have had the same late freeze problems while owning the property, but that in the past two years have there have been exceptionally warmer winters with very little snow and zero late frosts. Well that certainly explained the well vegetative state of this, same tree. Still it triggered thoughts and ideas of possible influence of climate shifting taking place. Mind you, I wouldn't mind California Sycamores spreading their  wings and making inroads where they weren't existing previously. But I admit, I hate to see the present disintegration of other habitats through the irresponsible mismanagement by humans which have created all these weather change scenarios. Hopefully, families will take note so as to prepare for up coming worsening events which no doubt will occur. 

Photo: Mine 
This particular tree is a remarkable survivor to me. I've past by this tree for almost three decades in work travel between the mountains and Imperial Valley often once a week. It is location along what I believe is called San Ysidro Creek which is located between the Jct of Hwy 79 & San Diego County Road S-2 and the historical Butterfield Stage Station which has recently been restored and open for tourism. This creek drainage makes it's way to Lake Henshaw and further west becomes the San Luis Rey River which makes it's way to the Pacific Ocean. This location is remarkable in that this Sycamore has survived here to grow so large and yet in 2011 when my wife and I visited and stayed at my brother's place in Ranchita just up the road, this tree was in as bad a shape as a result of a cold snap from frost as the Sycamore from my old property up in Anza. It's leaves also had been burned by late frost. Recovery never really happens that year, always the following year. 

Credit: Wiki
Of course I had always toyed with the idea that the Arizona Sycamore (Platanus wrightii) might be a better choice as it can withstand more extreme  temperatures [heat/cold] in some of it's Sky Island habitats where it endures much more cold in it's interior North American  range. But I never had enough personal hands on experience with them to make any real world  determination on that. Still would be an exciting  challenge though. I think they would probably do better on the Desert side of the Southern California mountains. At least that would be my take on them. 

Whatever the explanations for some of these observations for some of these noticeable changes or developments in plant movements and survival in formerly colder circumstance, there is no doubt that subtle changes are a preview of things to come.  I'll have several more posts on California Sycamores later, so stay tuned!

Further Update on Sycamores:

My personal ongoing fascination with anything Sycamore

These next couple of articles deal with the migration of plants up into higher elevations where it is cooler than former lower elevation ranges. Proof of further climate shifting. This first post deals with the research work of Jon Keeley and Dylan Schwilk on upward plant movement in the Santa Rosa Mountains above Palm Springs California:

Santa Rosa Mountains & Climate Change - Will Anyone Pay Attention ?

This next post is about research of University of Arizona and research on upwards movement of plants like Alligator Juniper to higher elevation and lower elevation trees dying.

Our Earth: Looking at Past Relic Ecosystems While Meditating & Pondering on Future Rebuilding

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