AJCC  Vol.7 No.4 , December 2018
Model-Based Forecasts of North American Forest Growth: A Review
Abstract: In the context of climate change, planning for forest management goals becomes more complicated. Possible changes in precipitation, temperature, and CO2 can affect tree growth substantially and potential effects differ by species and region. However, integration of potential forest growth responses to these factors can be achieved using models. Because of the need to understand the range of forest growth forecasts and the strengths and limitations of different modeling approaches, I summarized results from 25 studies of forecasted forest responses over coming decades. Some models used statistical relationships between tree rings and climate to forecast growth responses to future climate, some simulated net photosynthesis of a standard forest canopy, and many used tree or stand growth models at various levels of mechanistic detail. In general, models that included CO2 responses predicted enhanced forest growth by 2100 across most of the commercial timberland areas of the US and Canada. For modest warming, most models showed growth enhancement in most regions. For hotter scenarios, many models and regions showed even more growth enhancement, but some regions such as the Southwest, mountain West, and southwestern Canada were predicted to experience drought stress and increased fire incidence, although projections in these regions were variable. Young stands, angiosperms, and early-successional species were predicted to exhibit the most positive responses. As a result, commercial harvest ages might be accelerated by several years, depending on species. Some simulations for the Midwest and Northeast US predicted a doubling or more of net primary productivity although other studies show a lesser response. Model runs that did not include mechanisms of CO2 fertilization showed positive growth responses in only limited cases and generally showed growth declines. There also was some evidence indicating the potential spread of forest into woodland at shrub or prairie ecotones.
Cite this paper: Loehle, C. (2018) Model-Based Forecasts of North American Forest Growth: A Review. American Journal of Climate Change, 7, 519-547. doi: 10.4236/ajcc.2018.74032.

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