I returned late Wednesday from a trip to New Brunswick (and a smidgen of Québec), where I was attending a workshop on photography and visual design by Freeman Patterson and André Gallant. Not only did I have a great time and learn quite a bit, but I also had the opportunity to do a bit of photography (obviously).
Paper birch was previously featured on BPotD earlier this year (see: Betula papyrifera), so do check that entry for information about distribution and cultural uses. The Flora of North America entry for Betula papyrifera also provides extensive details about both those topics.
It is “easy” to broadly understand the implications of temperature-rise in association with global climate change (e.g., polar bears and melting ice), but there are biogeochemistry-related effects as well; for example, ocean acidification. In the case of birch trees, the decomposition of the leaves of Betula papyrifera has been studied to examine the effects of increased atmospheric CO2. The result? Seemingly poorer-quality leaf litter, implying associated cascading effects for forests, streams and nearby oceans (because of a slowdown of nutrient-cycling: see decomposition from the herbarium at Utah State University). For details of the study, see (PDF): Parsons, WFJ et al. 2004. Decomposition of Betula papyrifera leaf litter under the independent and interactive effects of elevated CO2 and O3. Global Change Biology. 10(10):1666-1677.