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Ecol Lett. 2016 Sep;19(9):1119-28. doi: 10.1111/ele.12650. Epub 2016 Jul 19.

Observed forest sensitivity to climate implies large changes in 21st century North American forest growth.

Author information

1
Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Arizona, Bioscience West, Tucson, AZ, USA.
2
Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, USA.
3
Dendroclimatology, Swiss Federal Research Institute WSL, Birmensdorf, Switzerland.
4
W. Szafer Institute of Botany, Polish Academy of Sciences, Krakow, Poland.
5
Department of Ecology, Montana State University, Bozeman, MT, USA.
6
Department of Biology, Bryn Mawr College, Bryn Mawr, PA, USA.
7
Santa Fe Institute, Santa Fe, NM, USA.
8
Center for Environmental Studies, Aspen, CO, USA.

Abstract

Predicting long-term trends in forest growth requires accurate characterisation of how the relationship between forest productivity and climatic stress varies across climatic regimes. Using a network of over two million tree-ring observations spanning North America and a space-for-time substitution methodology, we forecast climate impacts on future forest growth. We explored differing scenarios of increased water-use efficiency (WUE) due to CO2 -fertilisation, which we simulated as increased effective precipitation. In our forecasts: (1) climate change negatively impacted forest growth rates in the interior west and positively impacted forest growth along the western, southeastern and northeastern coasts; (2) shifting climate sensitivities offset positive effects of warming on high-latitude forests, leaving no evidence for continued 'boreal greening'; and (3) it took a 72% WUE enhancement to compensate for continentally averaged growth declines under RCP 8.5. Our results highlight the importance of locally adapted forest management strategies to handle regional differences in growth responses to climate change.

KEYWORDS:

Climate change; dendrochronology; forecasting; forests; growth; modelling; trees

PMID:
27434040
DOI:
10.1111/ele.12650
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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