The impact of future forest dynamics on climate: interactive effects of changing vegetation and disturbance regimes.
ABSTRACT: Currently, the temperate forest biome cools the earth's climate and dampens anthropogenic climate change. However, climate change will substantially alter forest dynamics in the future, affecting the climate regulation function of forests. Increasing natural disturbances can reduce carbon uptake and evaporative cooling, but at the same time increase the albedo of a landscape. Simultaneous changes in vegetation composition can mitigate disturbance impacts, but also influence climate regulation directly (e.g., via albedo changes). As a result of a number of interactive drivers (changes in climate, vegetation, and disturbance) and their simultaneous effects on climate-relevant processes (carbon exchange, albedo, latent heat flux) the future climate regulation function of forests remains highly uncertain. Here we address these complex interactions to assess the effect of future forest dynamics on the climate system. Our specific objectives were (1) to investigate the long-term interactions between changing vegetation composition and disturbance regimes under climate change, (2) to quantify the response of climate regulation to changes in forest dynamics, and (3) to identify the main drivers of the future influence of forests on the climate system. We investigated these issues using the individual-based forest landscape and disturbance model (iLand). Simulations were run over 200 yr for Kalkalpen National Park (Austria), assuming different future climate projections, and incorporating dynamically responding wind and bark beetle disturbances. To consistently assess the net effect on climate the simulated responses of carbon exchange, albedo, and latent heat flux were expressed as contributions to radiative forcing. We found that climate change increased disturbances (+27.7% over 200 yr) and specifically bark beetle activity during the 21st century. However, negative feedbacks from a simultaneously changing tree species composition (+28.0% broadleaved species) decreased disturbance activity in the long run (-10.1%), mainly by reducing the host trees available for bark beetles. Climate change and the resulting future forest dynamics significantly reduced the climate regulation function of the landscape, increasing radiative forcing by up to +10.2% on average over 200 yr. Overall, radiative forcing was most strongly driven by carbon exchange. We conclude that future changes in forest dynamics can cause amplifying climate feedbacks from temperate forest ecosystems.
Project description:Secondary organic aerosol (SOA) nearly always exists as an internal mixture, and the distribution of this mixture depends on the formation mechanism of SOA. A model is developed to examine the influence of using an internal mixing state based on the mechanism of formation and to estimate the radiative forcing of SOA in the future. For the present day, 66% of SOA is internally mixed with sulfate, while 34% is internally mixed with primary soot. Compared with using an external mixture, the direct effect of SOA is decreased due to the decrease in total aerosol surface area and the increase of absorption efficiency. Aerosol number concentrations are sharply reduced, and this is responsible for a large decrease in the cloud albedo effect. Internal mixing decreases the radiative effect of SOA by a factor of >4 compared with treating SOA as an external mixture. The future SOA burden increases by 24% due to CO2 increases and climate change, leading to a total (direct plus cloud albedo) radiative forcing of -0.05 W m-2 When the combined effects of changes in climate, anthropogenic emissions, and land use are included, the SOA forcing is -0.07 W m-2, even though the SOA burden only increases by 6.8%. This is caused by the substantial increase of SOA associated with sulfate in the Aitken mode. The Aitken mode increase contributes to the enhancement of first indirect radiative forcing, which dominates the total radiative forcing.
Project description:The biophysical feedbacks of forest fire on Earth's surface radiative budget remain uncertain at the global scale. Using satellite observations, we show that fire-induced forest loss accounts for about 15% of global forest loss, mostly in northern high latitudes. Forest fire increases surface temperature by 0.15?K (0.12 to 0.19?K) one year following fire in burned area globally. In high-latitudes, the initial positive climate-fire feedback was mainly attributed to reduced evapotranspiration and sustained for approximately 5 years. Over longer-term (>?5 years), increases in albedo dominated the surface radiative budget resulting in a net cooling effect. In tropical regions, fire had a long-term weaker warming effect mainly due to reduced evaporative cooling. Globally, biophysical feedbacks of fire-induced surface warming one year after fire are equivalent to 62% of warming due to annual fire-related CO2 emissions. Our results suggest that changes in the severity and/or frequency of fire disturbance may have strong impacts on Earth's surface radiative budget and climate, especially at high latitudes.
Project description:Abstract Wind and bark beetle disturbances have increased in recent decades, affecting Europe's coniferous forests with particular severity. Management fostering forest diversity and resilience is deemed to effectively mitigate disturbance impacts, yet its efficiency and interaction with other disturbance management measures remain unclear. We focused on Central Europe, which has become one of the hotspots of recent disturbance changes. We used the iLand ecosystem model to understand the interplay between species composition of the forest, forest disturbance dynamics affected by climate change, and disturbance management. The tested measures included (a) active transformation of tree species composition toward site?matching species; (b) intensive removal of windfelled trees, which can support the buildup of bark beetle populations; and (c) reduction of mature and vulnerable trees on the landscape via modified harvesting regimes. We found that management systems aiming to sustain the dominance of Norway spruce in the forest are failing under climate change, and none of the measures applied could mitigate the disturbance impacts. Conversely, management systems fostering forest diversity substantially reduced the level of disturbance. Significant disturbance reduction has been achieved even without salvaging and rotation length reduction, which is beneficial for ecosystem recovery, carbon, and biodiversity. Synthesis and applications: We conclude that climate change amplifies the contrast in vulnerability of monospecific and species?diverse forests to wind and bark beetle disturbance. Whereas forests dominated by Norway spruce are not likely to be sustained in Central Europe under climate change, different management strategies can be applied in species?diverse forests to reach the desired control over the disturbance dynamic. Our findings justify some unrealistic expectations about the options to control disturbance dynamics under climate change and highlight the importance of management that fosters forest diversity. We contrasted disturbance patterns of a Central European mountain forest that undergoes an intense transformation of species composition against a forest, where management maintained the dominance of vulnerable Norway spruce. Our findings justify some unrealistic expectations about the options to control disturbance dynamics under climate change and highlight the importance of management that fosters forest diversity.
Project description:CONTEXT:Growing evidence suggests that climate change could substantially alter forest disturbances. Interactions between individual disturbance agents are a major component of disturbance regimes, yet how interactions contribute to their climate sensitivity remains largely unknown. OBJECTIVES:Here, our aim was to assess the climate sensitivity of disturbance interactions, focusing on wind and bark beetle disturbances. METHODS:We developed a process-based model of bark beetle disturbance, integrated into the dynamic forest landscape model iLand (already including a detailed model of wind disturbance). We evaluated the integrated model against observations from three wind events and a subsequent bark beetle outbreak, affecting 530.2 ha (3.8 %) of a mountain forest landscape in Austria between 2007 and 2014. Subsequently, we conducted a factorial experiment determining the effect of changes in climate variables on the area disturbed by wind and bark beetles separately and in combination. RESULTS:iLand was well able to reproduce observations with regard to area, temporal sequence, and spatial pattern of disturbance. The observed disturbance dynamics was strongly driven by interactions, with 64.3 % of the area disturbed attributed to interaction effects. A +4 °C warming increased the disturbed area by +264.7 % and the area-weighted mean patch size by +1794.3 %. Interactions were found to have a ten times higher sensitivity to temperature changes than main effects, considerably amplifying the climate sensitivity of the disturbance regime. CONCLUSIONS:Disturbance interactions are a key component of the forest disturbance regime. Neglecting interaction effects can lead to a substantial underestimation of the climate change sensitivity of disturbance regimes.
Project description:We present an assessment of the impacts on atmospheric composition and radiative forcing of short-lived pollutants following a worldwide decrease in anthropogenic activity and emissions comparable to what has occurred in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, using the global composition-climate model United Kingdom Chemistry and Aerosols Model (UKCA). Emission changes reduce tropospheric hydroxyl radical and ozone burdens, increasing methane lifetime. Reduced SO2 emissions and oxidizing capacity lead to a decrease in sulfate aerosol and increase in aerosol size, with accompanying reductions to cloud droplet concentration. However, large reductions in black carbon emissions increase aerosol albedo. Overall, the changes in ozone and aerosol direct effects (neglecting aerosol-cloud interactions which were statistically insignificant but whose response warrants future investigation) yield a radiative forcing of -33 to -78 mWm-2. Upon cessation of emission reductions, the short-lived climate forcers rapidly return to pre-COVID levels; meaning, these changes are unlikely to have lasting impacts on climate assuming emissions return to pre-intervention levels.
Project description:Uncertainty in pre-industrial natural aerosol emissions is a major component of the overall uncertainty in the radiative forcing of climate. Improved characterisation of natural emissions and their radiative effects can therefore increase the accuracy of global climate model projections. Here we show that revised assumptions about pre-industrial fire activity result in significantly increased aerosol concentrations in the pre-industrial atmosphere. Revised global model simulations predict a 35% reduction in the calculated global mean cloud albedo forcing over the Industrial Era (1750-2000 CE) compared to estimates using emissions data from the Sixth Coupled Model Intercomparison Project. An estimated upper limit to pre-industrial fire emissions results in a much greater (91%) reduction in forcing. When compared to 26 other uncertain parameters or inputs in our model, pre-industrial fire emissions are by far the single largest source of uncertainty in pre-industrial aerosol concentrations, and hence in our understanding of the magnitude of the historical radiative forcing due to anthropogenic aerosol emissions.
Project description:Forest fires are increasing across the American West due to climate warming and fire suppression. Accelerated snow melt occurs in burned forests due to increased light transmission through the canopy and decreased snow albedo from deposition of light-absorbing impurities. Using satellite observations, we document up to an annual 9% growth in western forests burned since 1984, and 5?day earlier snow disappearance persisting for?>10 years following fire. Here, we show that black carbon and burned woody debris darkens the snowpack and lowers snow albedo for 15 winters following fire, using measurements of snow collected from seven forested sites that burned between 2002 and 2016. We estimate a 372 to 443% increase in solar energy absorbed by snowpacks occurred beneath charred forests over the past two decades, with enhanced post-fire radiative forcing in 2018 causing earlier melt and snow disappearance in?>?11% of forests in the western seasonal snow zone.
Project description:Climate impacts of forest bioenergy result from a multitude of warming and cooling effects and vary by location and technology. While past bioenergy studies have analysed a limited number of climate-altering pollutants and activities, no studies have jointly addressed supply chain greenhouse gas emissions, biogenic CO2 fluxes, aerosols and albedo changes at high spatial and process detail. Here, we present a national-level climate impact analysis of stationary bioenergy systems in Norway based on wood-burning stoves and wood biomass-based district heating. We find that cooling aerosols and albedo offset 60-70% of total warming, leaving a net warming of 340 or 69?kg CO2e MWh-1 for stoves or district heating, respectively. Large variations are observed over locations for albedo, and over technology alternatives for aerosols. By demonstrating both notable magnitudes and complexities of different climate warming and cooling effects of forest bioenergy in Norway, our study emphasizes the need to consider multiple forcing agents in climate impact analysis of forest bioenergy.
Project description:Disturbances from wind, bark beetles, and wildfires have increased in Europe's forests throughout the 20th century 1. Climatic changes were identified as a main driver behind this increase 2, yet how the expected continuation of climate change will affect Europe's forest disturbance regime remains unresolved. Increasing disturbances could strongly impact the forest carbon budget 3,4, and are hypothesized to contribute to the recently observed carbon sink saturation in Europe's forests 5. Here we show that forest disturbance damage in Europe has continued to increase in the first decade of the 21st century. Based on an ensemble of climate change scenarios we find that damage from wind, bark beetles, and forest fires is likely to increase further in coming decades, and estimate the rate of increase to +0.91·106 m3 of timber per year until 2030. We show that this intensification can offset the effect of management strategies aiming to increase the forest carbon sink, and calculate the disturbance-related reduction of the carbon storage potential in Europe's forests to be 503.4 Tg C in 2021-2030. Our results highlight the considerable carbon cycle feedbacks of changing disturbance regimes, and underline that future forest policy and management will require a stronger focus on disturbance risk and resilience.
Project description:Natural gas is seen by many as the future of American energy: a fuel that can provide energy independence and reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the process. However, there has also been confusion about the climate implications of increased use of natural gas for electric power and transportation. We propose and illustrate the use of technology warming potentials as a robust and transparent way to compare the cumulative radiative forcing created by alternative technologies fueled by natural gas and oil or coal by using the best available estimates of greenhouse gas emissions from each fuel cycle (i.e., production, transportation and use). We find that a shift to compressed natural gas vehicles from gasoline or diesel vehicles leads to greater radiative forcing of the climate for 80 or 280 yr, respectively, before beginning to produce benefits. Compressed natural gas vehicles could produce climate benefits on all time frames if the well-to-wheels CH(4) leakage were capped at a level 45-70% below current estimates. By contrast, using natural gas instead of coal for electric power plants can reduce radiative forcing immediately, and reducing CH(4) losses from the production and transportation of natural gas would produce even greater benefits. There is a need for the natural gas industry and science community to help obtain better emissions data and for increased efforts to reduce methane leakage in order to minimize the climate footprint of natural gas.