Story at a glance:

  • “Ghost forests” occur when trees absorb salt water instead of freshwater, and they die from suffocation.
  • In one part of New Jersey, more than 300 acres have turned into a ghost forest.
  • The coastal forested wetlands will be “drowned and salted out of existence through the North American Coastal Plain within 100 years,” according to the University of Virginia and Duke University.

New Jersey’s white cedar forests are becoming “ghost forests,” a term that describes sick and dying trees.

The coastal forests along with New Jersey, specifically South Jersey, are turning from lush green to pale white as saltwater is creeping into the biome and suffocating the forests, NBC News reported.


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The saltwater is entering the forest due to a surge of hurricanes and superstorms and rising levels. And it is not just happening in New Jersey; coastal communities experiencing rising sea levels are also seeing this phenomenon. 

One ghost forest spans 300 acres in New Jersey, according to NBC News. 

“If we pay close attention to our environment, we often see that it sends us signals,” Shawn LaTourette, a New Jersey commissioner of environmental protection, told NBC. “This is a signal about that risk that we all face from saltwater intrusion from storm surge.”

The Gulf Coast region, such as Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama, is already experiencing this problem. The coastal woodlands are in danger of reaching a “point of no return within the century,” according to researchers from the University of Virginia and Duke University.

Sientists from the University of Virginia and Duke believe that coastal forested wetlands will be “drowned and salted out of existence through the North American Coastal Plain within 100 years.”

The scientists also say the environments in Brazil, Ukraine and Mozambique will have similar fates but do not currently have research available. 


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Published on Sep 23, 2021