Free Newsletters - Space - Defense - Environment - Energy - Solar - Nuclear
..
. Earth Science News .




WOOD PILE
As climate changes, boreal forests to shift north and relinquish more carbon than expected
by Staff Writers
Berkeley CA (SPX) May 07, 2013


This climate model projection shows the movement of climates in Europe. By the end of the century, the climate currently found in France may have moved to northern England.

It's difficult to imagine how a degree or two of warming will affect a location. Will it rain less? What will happen to the area's vegetation? New Berkeley Lab research offers a way to envision a warmer future. It maps how Earth's myriad climates-and the ecosystems that depend on them-will move from one area to another as global temperatures rise.

The approach foresees big changes for one of the planet's great carbon sponges. Boreal forests will likely shift north at a steady clip this century. Along the way, the vegetation will relinquish more trapped carbon than most current climate models predict. The research is published online in the journal Nature Geoscience.

Boreal ecosystems encircle the planet's high latitudes, covering swaths of Canada, Europe, and Russia in coniferous trees and wetlands. This vegetation stores vast amounts of carbon, keeping it out of the atmosphere where it can contribute to climate change.

Scientists use incredibly complex computer simulations called Earth system models to predict the interactions between climate change and ecosystems such as boreal forests. These models show that boreal habitat will expand poleward in the coming decades as regions to their north become warmer and wetter. This means that boreal ecosystems are expected to store even more carbon than they do today.

But the Berkeley Lab research tells a different story. The planet's boreal forests won't expand poleward. Instead, they'll shift poleward. The difference lies in the prediction that as boreal ecosystems follow the warming climate northward, their southern boundaries will be overtaken by even warmer and drier climates better suited for grassland.

And that's a key difference. Grassland stores a lot of carbon in its soil, but it accumulates at a much slower rate than is lost from diminishing forests.

"I found that the boreal ecosystems ringing the globe will be pushed north and replaced in their current location by what's currently to their south. In some places, that will be forest, but in other places it will be grassland," says Charles Koven, a scientist in Berkeley Lab's Earth Sciences Division who conducted the research.

"Most Earth system models don't predict this, which means they overestimate the amount of carbon that high-latitude vegetation will store in the future," he adds.

Koven's results come from a new way of tracking global warming's impact on Earth's mosaic of climates. The method is based on the premise that as temperatures rise, a location's climate will be replaced by a similar but slightly warmer climate from a nearby area. The displaced climate will in turn shift to another nearby location with a slightly cooler climate. It's as if climate change forces warmer climates to flow toward cooler areas, making everywhere warmer over time.

This approach can help determine where a given climate is going to in the future, and where a given climate will come from.

Koven applied this approach to 21 climate models. He used simulations that depict a middle-of-the-road climate change scenario, meaning the range of warming by the end of this century is 1.0C to 2.6C above a 1986 to 2005 baseline.

Climate models divide the planet into gridcells that cover tens or hundreds of square kilometers. In each model, Koven identified which gridcells in a warmer climate have a nearby gridcell with a similar climate in terms of average monthly temperature and precipitation. A good match, for example, is a neighboring gridcell that has similar rainfall patterns but is slightly warmer in the summer and winter.

Koven then calculated the speed at which a gridcell's climate will shift toward its matching gridcell over the next 80 years. He also investigated how this shift will transport the carbon stored in the vegetation that grows in the gridcell's climate.

In general, he found that climates move toward the poles and up mountain slopes. In parts of South America, warmer climates march westward up the Andes. In the southern latitudes, warmer climates head south.

But the most dramatic changes occur in the higher latitudes. Here, boreal ecosystems will have to race poleward in order to keep up with their climates. They'll also be encroached by warmer climates from the south. By the end of this century, a forest near Alberta, Canada will have to move 100 miles north in order to maintain its climate. And it will gain a climate that is now located 100 miles to the south.

Forests can't adapt this quickly, however, meaning that in the short-term they'll be stressed. And in the long-term they'll be forced to move north and give up their southern regions to grassland.

Only one of the Earth system models shows this precipitous loss of carbon in southern boreal forests. Koven says that's because most models don't account for random events such as fire, drought, and insects that kill already-stressed trees. His "climate analogue" approach does account for these events because they're implicit in the spatial distribution of ecosystems.

In addition, Earth system models predict carbon loss by placing vegetation at a given point, and then changing various climate properties above it.

"But this approach misses the fact that the whole forest might shift to a different place," says Koven.

.


Related Links
DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
Forestry News - Global and Local News, Science and Application






Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle




Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News





WOOD PILE
Nicaraguan rainforest said under threat from growing illegal logging
Managua, Nicaragua (UPI) May 3, 2013
A rainforest in Nicaragua is under growing threat from illegal logging by landless people who have invaded the area, leaders of local indigenous peoples say. The Bosawas Biosphere Reserve on the border of Nicaragua and Honduras, considered by the United Nations a global biological treasure, teems with wildlife. But the Mayangna and Miskito people who live in the region and hold t ... read more


WOOD PILE
Even Clinton couldn't get Led Zep to Sandy show

Brother admits defeat in tragic Bangladesh search

New York's Sandy lesson: evacuate and get boats

Global networks must be redesigned

WOOD PILE
World's First Full Color 3D Desktop Printer

EA inks deal for Star Wars videogames

Dell buys cloud software firm Enstratius

General Dynamics Team to Develop Second Radar System for the US Army Range Radar Replacement Program

WOOD PILE
Desalinization for China's water woes?

Scientists say granite from sea bed could be of a Brazilian 'Atlantis'

Rising sea levels threaten migratory birds - study

Indigenous activists stage new protest at Amazon dam site

WOOD PILE
Brazil rebuilding Antarctic base gutted by fire

Scientists sound alarm at Arctic Ocean's rapid acidification

NASA's IceBridge Finishing Up Successful Arctic Campaign

UN sounds alarm over record Arctic ice melt

WOOD PILE
Third of US bee colonies died last winter: report

China farmers held for selling meat from sick pigs

China detains 900 over toxic meat scandal: official

U.S. not siding with Europe in blaming pesticides for honeybee losses

WOOD PILE
More hurricanes for Hawaii?

Curious incident of China's quake dogs in the night-time

Four dead as Philippine volcano erupts

Five dead as Philippine volcano erupts

WOOD PILE
Deadly bombings hit drive to save Somalia

Zimbabwe defence chief refuses to meet PM: report

Tunisian army unable to find jihadists: ministry

Questions in S.Africa after Zuma's rich friends use military base

WOOD PILE
Monkey math

British retailer removes gender-specific toys after Internet protests

Gentle touch and the bionic eye

Printable 'bionic' ear melds electronics and biology




The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement