The continental U.S. has warmed 1.8 degrees in a century. Seas are 9 inches higher. Here is what climate change looks like.

Michael Golden has hunted elk on this mountain in Montana’s Bitterroot Valley his entire life. It’s a tradition he shared with his father. But his son is growing up in a starkly different environment.

Montana has warmed 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit since 1950, considerably more than the United States as a whole. That added heat is contributing to raging forest fires and bark beetle outbreaks, a combination that has devastated the state’s forests.

What Golden and his son have witnessed is part of a broader trend. The forests have seen so much damage that Montana’s trees, which had provided the crucial function of pulling carbon dioxide from the air, are sending the greenhouse gas back into the atmosphere.

And forests that once provided a counterbalance to climate change are at the moment contributing to it, as carbon-rich trees suddenly burn, or die and slowly decompose.

Montana is one of six states in the West where trees have been emitting carbon in the past decade or so, according to an analysis by David Cleaves, former climate change adviser to the chief of the U.S. Forest Service.

The other states are Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming. Four of these states’ forests have flipped in recent years to become carbon emitters — with Montana showing the biggest changes of all.

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