American trees are moving west

A new study has found that tree species typically found in the eastern U.S. are now shifting west, partly due to changing rainfall patterns.

    2017/05/19

NSFW    LAFAYETTE, INDIANA — A new study that looked at three decades worth of data on trees came to a startling discovery — the trees are migrating.

From 1980 to 2015, researchers from Purdue University found that 73% of trees in the eastern U.S. have been moving westward, while 62% have been migrating north, according to the study published in Science Advances.

As trees farther south and east die off, new ones sprout further north and east, causing the geographic center of where the trees live to gradually shift.

The reason for the move is unclear, but is possibly linked to climate change. Changes in rainfall patterns have reportedly led to wetter weather in the west.

Warming temperatures are also partly responsible for the northward shift, as trees try to get to cooler weather.

It’s highly unlikely that the eastern U.S. will be completely devoid of trees, but the migration could impact industries that rely on specific species.
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