Friday, October 12, 2012

Forests to feel climate change effect—damage could cost billions

PhysOrg: A new pan-European study suggests that the economic value of forests will decline between 14 % and 50 % due to climate change. If measures are not taken to change this, the damage could reach several hundred billion euros, say researchers led by the Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research (WSL) in Switzerland.

The study was presented in the journal Nature Climate Change. Researchers from Finland, Germany, the Netherlands and Switzerland believe that changes in both temperature and precipitation will affect the range of most tree species.

Their estimates were calculated on a wide range of temperature increases, between 1.4 °C and 5.8 °C. They anticipate this will occur even if the climate change scenario is not extreme. Cold-adapted and mesic species, including the Norway spruce, which is the biggest contributor to the economic value of European forests, will feel the biggest crunch. Using three climate change scenarios outlined in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the researchers believe the Norway spruce will change direction and go north, shifting away from its current locations in western central and eastern Europe.

With respect to higher elevations, the team estimates the Alps spruce, for example, could potentially survive. Meanwhile, climate change could benefit trees that have adapted to drought, but are slow to grow in areas like the Mediterranean, including Cork oak and Holm oak. Based on their findings, these trees could expand their ranges much further north than where they are today....

In France, a field recently cleared for pasturage, shot by Olybrius, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license

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