The landscape of Minnesota is changing as the climate crisis intensifies. Animals and plants that once were only found in the southern part of the state have moved north, suggesting that as the climate changes, Minnesota, by 2100, will start to resemble an environment similar to the one found in Kansas, a few states to the south.
Lee Frelich, the director of the University of Minnesota’s Center for Forest Ecology, believes that if the climate crisis goes unchecked, the boreal forests that soak up huge amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere could vanish completely, taking with them a third of the state’s native species of trees, flowers, birds, and pollinators. That’s why Frelich and a group of scientists are trying to understand exactly how the changing climate will affect Minnesota, what species will thrive, and are starting to plant trees that will one day take the place of the ones native to the state, according to The Washington Post.
In the northeast corner of the state, scientists are planting an experimental forest under different climatic conditions. They have built ten, 30-foot tall, open-top chambers. Eight of those chambers are warmed from above and below ground. The other two are controls. Half of the chambers also have elevated levels of carbon dioxide. By doing this, scientists can simulate how trees will react under warmer conditions caused by global heating.
One of the bolder parts of the experimental forest is the planting of trees that once would not have been found here, but that are expected to flourish in the future that scientists foresee in Minnesota’s North Woods.
The reasons motivating this experimental forest are rather grim, but what these scientists are showing us all is the need to be proactive rather than assuming there’s nothing you can do. The climate crisis is real—only when we recognize that can we do something about it.