Unless you've been living under a very slow moving tree in the American South-East for the past 30 years, you probably haven't noticed that, over the past 30 years, trees in the American South-East have been shifting more westward than northward. (If this was an audio blog, this is where you'd hear an audible gasp from the audience and/or a record scratch.)
According to a new study published in Science Advances, Eastern-American trees are fleeing west at the sap-splitting pace of roughly 20 km per decade, and are only heading north at a humiliatingly slow pace of 11 km per decade. So, why are the authors of this study directional-growth shaming trees? Well, the authors, along with many other climate scientists, expected that warming temperatures in the North would lure trees northward. But, to their surprise, trees apparently have bought into the Canadian lumberjack stereotype and are scared and are heading west instead. Although, the authors claim that this is less out of fear and more due to the fact that climate change is making the South-East drier and making the Central states rainier.
The authors also claim that the directional difference between angiosperms and gymnosperms is "fascinating." FASCINATING! Are you fascinated yet? Have you been held spellbound by the irresistible allure that is angiosperm/gymnosperm spatial shift differences? I know I haven't! But, it is kinda interesting. Trees with flowers (angiosperms) tend to be more westward than they were in the 80's, and the non-flowering trees (with their lack of decency, unabashedly flaunting their naked seeds on cones and leaves and whats-have-you) tend to be more northward than they were in the 80's.
So, really, it's just the flowering trees that are moving out West. Damn hippie trees!