What in the world killed some of Africa's oldest trees?

What in the world killed some of Africa's oldest trees?

Nine of the 13 oldest African baobab trees, which range in age from 1,100- to 2,500 years, have suddenly died and some researchers are blaming climate change.

The Sunland Baobab, also known as the Platland tree, was the continent's biggest baobab, standing more than 60 feet high and more than 100 feet across. They can grow to be thousands of years old, and develop hollows inside so large that one massive baobab in South Africa had a bar inside it.

Speaking of the team's findings, Dr Adrian Patrut of Babeş-Bolyai University in Romania said: "We suspect that the demise of monumental baobabs may be associated at least in part with significant modifications of climate conditions that affect southern Africa in particular".

Southern Africa, where the researchers cataloged the trees, has already been heating up faster than the global average, and researchers with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) say the region will see some of the most intense temperatures hikes and reduced rainfall on the continent.

Baobabs are "very hard to kill", according to Kruger National Park.

In the period between 2005 and 2017, the researchers found that five trees died in South Africa, four trees died in Namibia, three died in Zimbabwe and one tree each died in Botswana, Mozambique and Zambia.

Known for its visually-striking shape, the baobab resembles an upside-down plant, with its branches looking like tangled roots reaching towards the sky.

Trump renews attack on OPEC ahead of group's production meeting
Since early 2017, OPEC and other oil-producing countries have agreed to reduce supply in a bid to bolster oil prices. Dutch bank ING, however, said some OPEC members would "struggle to push production back to October 2016 levels".

If climate change is truly the culprit, this is just the latest evidence of how our careless addiction to carbon is damaging the sensitive ecosystems around us in ways that could be irrevocable. Researchers said further research is necessary to support or refute that idea.

Trees usually have their age counted by tree-ring dating (dendrochronology), but Patrut says the unusual biology of baobabs prevents this. It stores huge quantities of water and grows fruit edible for both humans and animals.

Whatever the reason is, the death of these trees will have a huge impact in the southern African landscape. The baobab "is famous because it is the biggest angiosperm, and it is the most iconic tree of Africa", Patrut said. Its leaves are boiled and eaten as an accompaniment similar to spinach, or used to make traditional medicines, while the bark is pounded and woven into rope, baskets, cloth and waterproof hats.

The goal of the study was to learn how the trees get so enormous. The tree started to split in 2016 and collapsed completely the following year.

“(They do refer to other baobab mortality but dont have real data on it),” Lovejoy continued.

The iconic trees can reach almost 2,000 years of age. "There has also been a rapid increase in the apparently natural deaths of many other mature baobabs", authors say.

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