2012-05-23

Bark Beetle May Impact Air Quality, Climate

If you've traveled to a forested national park out West in recent years, you may have noticed two things. First, a growing number of lodgepole pine trees are dying, victims of the bark beetle. And secondly, atmospheric haze, caused in part by tiny solid particles suspended in the air, is becoming a problem.

A study by a researcher at Southern Illinois University Carbondale shows these two phenomena may be related, tied together by chemistry and climate change factors.

Kara Huff Hartz, assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry in the College of Science, has authored a study appearing May 23 in the journal Environmental Science & Technology, a division of the American Chemical Society. The study, which Huff Hartz conducted by collecting gas specimens from bark beetle-infested and non-infested lodgepole pines, shows a large increase in the gases given off by the beetle infestations, which could enhance airborne particulate matter problems and haze in the area.