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October 21 2012
On a windswept Swedish mountain, a 10,000-year-old spruce with a claim to be the world's oldest tree is getting a new lease of life thanks to global warming, even as many plants are struggling.
Scientists are finding that the drift of growing areas for many plants out toward the poles is moving not in a smooth progression but in fits and starts, causing problems for farmers aiming to adapt and invest in cash crops that are more sensitive to climate than is this ancient conifer known as "Old Tjikko".
At a range of latitudes, but especially in the far north, climate change is bringing bigger than expected swings, putting billions of dollars at stake in a push to develop varieties with resilience to frost and heatwaves, drought or flood.
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