Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Study predicts an uncertain future for forests

17.09.2009
The composition of some of our nation's forests may be quite different 200 to 400 years from today according to a recent study at the University of Illinois. The study found that temperature and photosynthetic active radiation were the two most important variables in predicting what forest landscapes may look like in the future. The uncertainties became very high after the year 2200.

Approximately 100,000 acres of forested area west of Lake Superior which make up the Boundary Waters Canoe Area was used for the study. Using computer models PnET-II and LANDIS-II, the researchers were able to simulate 209 possible scenarios, including 13 tree species and 27 possible climate profiles to predict how the landscape will look over time.

"The tools that we developed and we're using for the research project can be applied to any discipline dealing with risk and uncertainty in decision making," said U of I researcher George Gertner.

"We were dealing with the uncertainties in global change predictions using the projections established by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change. These projections were based on different CO 2 reduction scenarios and global circulation models. "

The study found that the most important source of uncertainty in the forest composition prediction is from the uncertainty in temperature predictions. The second most important source is photosynthetic active radiation, the third is carbon dioxide, and the fourth is precipitation.

"The Boundary Waters Area is significant because it's a transitional area between boreal forests – like those in Canada, Russia, Sweden, and Norway – and temporal forests," Gertner said. "So, if there are changes in the climate you'll see the changes – if it gets warmer, the temporal forests will move north. Because of its proximity to Lake Superior, rainfall is not so critical there. It's very moist. So, if you were to do a similar sort of study, say, in Illinois, temperature may not cause so much uncertainty; rainfall might."

The research was done by a team consisting of George Gertner, a statistician and quantitative ecologist; Chonggang Xu, his Ph.D. student; and Robert Scheller, a landscape ecologist at the Conservation Biology Institute in Corvallis, Oregon. They drew from the disciplines of statistics and ecology to interpret the data collected to predict the future of the forest landscape.

"You have to have an understanding of the biology, physiology, as well as statistics as it relates to uncertainty. If you don't, then the results might not mean anything. You have to be able to interpret everything and make sure it all makes sense. "

Gertner explained that in traditional uncertainty analysis, the variables are considered to be independent of one another.

"But in reality, they are all interrelated. We try to account for the actual correlation of these inputs – these relationships. And that's where the methodology is new, because of that."

The relationships of the variables are more complicated than just raising the temperature and lowering the amount of rainfall. "One scenario might be if we establish a policy to reduce CO 2 greenhouse gas emissions by a certain level," Gertner said.

"If we have agencies around the world who adopt these policies to make these reductions, over time the scenarios predict what will happen, but with uncertainty."

The question is what to do about it? How to adapt? How to manage the forest for global change?

"The bottom line is that we have to have very robust systems that can handle this variability. It can't be rigid. If we have robust systems, whatever happens, it can handle it. Sustainability comes into play in the robustness. You try to manage those areas by having more diversity, not monocultures."

Gertner said that management can be easier with agricultural systems. "Over short intervals you can adapt very quickly. You can make big changes very quickly, but with a forest, the lifespan is 100, 200 years, so once you do something it's longer term. We need to be making policies now that will affect our forests hundreds of years from now."

Uncertainties in the response of a forest landscape to global climatic change is published in Global Change Biology 2009.

Funding was provided by U.S. Department of Agriculture McIntire-Stennis funds and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Construction Engineering Research Laboratory funds.

Debra Levey Larson | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.illinois.edu

More articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science:

nachricht How much drought can a forest take?
20.01.2017 | University of California - Davis

nachricht Plasma-zapping process could yield trans fat-free soybean oil product
02.12.2016 | Purdue University

All articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Quantum optical sensor for the first time tested in space – with a laser system from Berlin

For the first time ever, a cloud of ultra-cold atoms has been successfully created in space on board of a sounding rocket. The MAIUS mission demonstrates that quantum optical sensors can be operated even in harsh environments like space – a prerequi-site for finding answers to the most challenging questions of fundamental physics and an important innovation driver for everyday applications.

According to Albert Einstein's Equivalence Principle, all bodies are accelerated at the same rate by the Earth's gravity, regardless of their properties. This...

Im Focus: Traffic jam in empty space

New success for Konstanz physicists in studying the quantum vacuum

An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Sustainable Water use in Agriculture in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

19.01.2017 | Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Arctic melt ponds form when meltwater clogs ice pores

24.01.2017 | Earth Sciences

Synthetic nanoparticles achieve the complexity of protein molecules

24.01.2017 | Life Sciences

PPPL physicist uncovers clues to mechanism behind magnetic reconnection

24.01.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>