Hold on to your pancakes — because climate change could threaten maple syrup production. Yep, that’s right. Climate change may mean that you need to eat your brunchy faves sans syrup. At least, that’s what a recent study published in the journal Ecology found.

University of Michigan researchers looked at the effect environmental conditions had on the growth of 1,000+ sugar maple trees between the years 1994 and 2013. The trees, located in four Michigan forest sites, helped the scientists come to some pretty sobering conclusions.

photo: pixabay.com

According to the data, climate change is causing warmer, drier growing seasons. What does this mean for the trees? Well, it seems that the changing climate is stunting their growth.

Through climate modeling, scientists were able to predict what would happen to the maple trees — and it wasn’t good. Not only will the growth of older, larger trees slow down, but the smaller saplings probably won’t survive. If you’re imagining that the older trees can just keep on with their slow growing (and keep producing that liquid syrupy gold), think again. When these trees die, there won’t be new ones to take their place. That means an end to the syrup cycle.

Before you start hoarding maple syrup, keep in mind that the syrup-makers are doing everything they can to keep their products flowing. In an interview with NPR, Mark Isselhardt, maple extension specialist at the University of Vermont (and yes, that’s pretty much one of the raddest jobs we can imagine), said, “sugar-makers tend to be very proactive and there are lots of management approaches they can take — and are taking — to limit the potential climate effects.”

So, maybe there is hope for the maple trees. And our breakfasts.

What do you think about climate change affecting the growth of maple trees? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

—Erica Loop



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