Navigation Links
Global warming may spur increased growth in Pacific Northwest forests
Date:10/19/2009

CORVALLIS, Ore. Global warming in the next century could cause a significant increase in the productivity of high-elevation forests of the Pacific Northwest, a new study suggests. However, forests at lower elevations which in recent years have accounted for more than 80 percent of the region's timber harvest could face a decline in growth.

The potential changes, which are based on the projections of computer models, would be most pronounced in Washington. In that state, high-elevation forests could see their productivity increase substantially, from 35 percent a year to as much as 500 percent, depending on which climate scenario is used.

In Oregon, similar elevations might see more modest forest growth increases of 9 to 75 percent.

Overall, forest productivity could increase about 7 percent annually in forests west of the Cascade Range and 20 percent in forests east of them, in conclusions based on one climate scenario that largely reflects current trends of energy use, globalization and economic growth. However, management practices, genetic limitations, and changes in natural disturbances such as disease, insects and fire were not included in the study, and can also affect productivity.

These findings analyzed changes in forest productivity further into the future than most previous work, and were just published in Forest Ecology and Management, a professional journal, by researchers from the College of Forestry at Oregon State University and the Pacific Northwest Research Station.

"There's a lot of variability here, depending on which climate scenario turns out to be most accurate and what policy changes are made as a result," said Darius Adams, a professor of forest economics at OSU. "And there are dramatic differences in forest regions and elevations. Clearly the forest growth is likely to increase the most at higher elevations, but it's worth noting that those forests never had very high growth rates to start with."

According to Greg Latta, an OSU faculty research assistant and principal investigator on the study, most of the climate scenarios that were used showed increases in temperatures from one to eight degrees but precipitation projections were all over the map, sometimes up and sometimes down. At lower elevations, tree growth is constrained when moisture is limited and drought stress is an issue.

"The lower-elevation forests are getting warmer just like those at higher elevations, but in most scenarios the precipitation doesn't increase enough there to offset that," Latta said. "The cumulative effect could be declines in forest growth of 1 to 3 percent a year in low-elevation Oregon forests, which could have a substantial long-term impact if trees are being managed for timber harvest."

Among the findings of the study:

  • Any climate scenario that shows an increase in future temperatures could potentially lead to an overall increase in forest productivity in the Pacific Northwest, especially in Washington.

  • Increases in high-elevation forest productivity were partially offset by probable declines in lower-elevation forest productivity.

  • Private timber lands that have accounted for 83 percent of the timber harvest in this region over the past decade are concentrated at lower elevations.

  • The models showed that increases in forest growth at higher elevations could increase carbon sequestration for those areas, but they did not include potential changes in fire frequency and severity, which are also affected by biomass accumulation.

  • Other possible changes not reflected in the productivity projections were disturbance regimes such as diseases and insect outbreaks that are also affected by climate.

  • The combination of tree mortality and declining future growth on private timberlands could lead to concerns about lower harvest levels and reduced carbon sequestration in the future.

  • Responses to these projected future changes may depend largely on who owns the land, since private and public landowners often have different management objectives.

Forest productivity is important to consider for a range of issues, the researchers noted in their study, including potential timber harvest, habitat for wildlife, fuels that increase fire risk, carbon sequestration and other issues.

The study is also now being extended into Alaska, the researchers said.

"Water availability turned out to be an important factor for much of Oregon and Washington," said Tara Barrett, a co-author and research scientist with the U.S. Forest Service. "We're extending the project to coastal Alaska, where length of growing season is likely to be a more important factor than water availability, so it will be interesting to see if results are similar for that region."

Forests and their potential growth may also play a significant role in future mitigation efforts to reduce greenhouse warming and the use of "carbon credits," experts say.


'/>"/>

Contact: Greg Latta
greg.latta@oregonstate.edu
541-737-6264
Oregon State University
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Global Warming and the Habitability of Planet Earth, Sept. 26
2. Green skies: Engineers work may reduce jet travels role in global warming
3. Scientists in first global study of poison gas in the atmosphere
4. North Americas northernmost lake affected by global warming
5. IEEE-USA innovation forum will help prepare US tech leaders to prosper in a global marketplace
6. Majority of Americans want local action on global warming, says poll
7. International team of scientists warns of climate changes impact on global river flow
8. Changing the global dietary environment
9. Global deal fuels QUTs world-changing research
10. NIH hosts event to launch Council of Science Editors global theme issue
11. Agricultural soil erosion is not adding to global warming
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:3/30/2017)... , March 30, 2017  On April 6-7, 2017, ... the Genome hackathon at Microsoft,s headquarters in ... competition will focus on developing health and wellness apps ... Hack the Genome is the first hackathon ... The world,s largest companies in the genomics, tech and ...
(Date:3/30/2017)... , March 30, 2017 Trends, opportunities and ... and behavioral), by technology (fingerprint, AFIS, iris recognition, facial ... and others), by end use industry (government and law ... financial and banking, and others), and by region ( ... , Asia Pacific , and the ...
(Date:3/28/2017)... 28, 2017 The report "Video ... Monitors, Servers, Storage Devices), Software (Video Analytics, VMS), and ... Global Forecast to 2022", published by MarketsandMarkets, the market ... is projected to reach USD 75.64 Billion by 2022, ... The base year considered for the study is 2016 ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:10/10/2017)... , ... October 10, 2017 , ... ... of 13 prestigious awards honoring scientists who have made outstanding ... a scheduled symposium during Pittcon 2018, the world’s leading conference and exposition for ...
(Date:10/9/2017)... ... October 09, 2017 , ... At its national board ... Stubbs, a professor in Harvard University’s Departments of Physics and Astronomy, has been selected ... member of the winning team for the 2015 Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental physics for ...
(Date:10/7/2017)... ... October 06, 2017 , ... With ... microscopy and surface analysis, Nanoscience Instruments is now expanding into Analytical Services. ... range of contract analysis services for advanced applications. Services will leverage techniques ...
(Date:10/6/2017)... ... 06, 2017 , ... The HealthTech Venture Network (HTVN) is ... fourth annual Conference where founders, investors, innovative practitioners and collaborators are invited to ... showcasing early stage digital health and med tech companies. , This day-long event ...
Breaking Biology Technology: