Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Climate change is fueling forest disturbances, study shows

Date:
August 4, 2014
Source:
European Forest Institute
Summary:
Climate change is already altering the environment, experts say. Long-lived ecosystems such as forests are particularly vulnerable to the comparatively rapid changes in the climate system. A new international study shows that damage from wind, bark beetles, and wildfires has increased drastically in Europe’s forests in recent years.

Increasing forest disturbance damage in Europe.
Credit: Image courtesy of European Forest Institute

Climate change is already altering the environment. Long-lived ecosystems such as forests are particularly vulnerable to the comparatively rapid changes in the climate system. A new international study published this week in Nature Climate Change shows that damage from wind, bark beetles, and wildfires has increased drastically in Europe's forests in recent years.

"Disturbances like windthrow and forest fires are part of the natural dynamics of forest ecosystems, and are not, therefore, a catastrophe for the ecosystem as such. However, these disturbances have intensified considerably in recent decades, which increasingly challenges the sustainable management of forest ecosystems," says Rupert Seidl, BOKU Vienna, the principal researcher involved in the study.

The authors show that damage caused by forest disturbance has increased continuously over the last 40 years in Europe, reaching 56 million cubic meters of timber per year in the period 2002 -- 2010. Scenario analyses for the coming decades also suggest a continuation of this trend: the study estimates that forest disturbances will increase damage by another million cubic meters of timber every year over the next 20 years. This increase amounts to the approximate timber volume stocking on a forest area corresponding to 7000 soccer fields. The scientists identified climate change as the main driver behind this increase: under assumed stable climatic conditions no substantial further increases in forest disturbances beyond the current levels were found in their simulations. Damage from forest fires was particularly estimated to increase on the Iberian Peninsula, while bark beetle damage increased most strongly in the Alps. Wind damage would be seen to rise most notably in Central and Western Europe.

Increasing disturbances amplify climate change

There is strong feedback from forest disturbances on the climate system. Currently, Europe's forests are mitigating climate change by taking up large quantities of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide. The carbon loss from increasing tree mortality and disturbance could, however, reduce this uptake and reverse the positive effects of forest management aimed at reducing climate change. The climate-induced increase in forest disturbance could thus further amplify the progression of climate change. In this respect, adapted management strategies, such as increased biodiversity and optimized thinning interventions in Europe's forests, can buffer these carbon losses and support the climate change mitigation function of forests. Europe's forest management will thus need to adapt to changing disturbances in order to keep sustaining the diverse set of ecosystem services provided to society in the future, the study concludes.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by European Forest Institute. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Rupert Seidl, Mart-Jan Schelhaas, Werner Rammer, Pieter Johannes Verkerk. Increasing forest disturbances in Europe and their impact on carbon storage. Nature Climate Change, 2014; DOI: 10.1038/nclimate2318

Cite This Page:

European Forest Institute. "Climate change is fueling forest disturbances, study shows." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 4 August 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/08/140804065942.htm>.
European Forest Institute. (2014, August 4). Climate change is fueling forest disturbances, study shows. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/08/140804065942.htm
European Forest Institute. "Climate change is fueling forest disturbances, study shows." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/08/140804065942.htm (accessed September 23, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Hundreds of Thousands Hit NYC Streets to Protest Climate Change

Hundreds of Thousands Hit NYC Streets to Protest Climate Change

AFP (Sep. 22, 2014) Celebrities, political leaders and the masses rallied in New York and across the globe demanding urgent action on climate change, with organizers saying 600,000 people hit the streets. Duration: 01:19 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
French FM Urges 'powerful' Response to Global Warming

French FM Urges 'powerful' Response to Global Warming

AFP (Sep. 22, 2014) French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius on Monday warned about the potential "catastrophe" if global warming was not dealt with in a "powerful" way. Duration: 01:08 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ongoing Drought, Fighting Put Somalia at Risk of Famine

Ongoing Drought, Fighting Put Somalia at Risk of Famine

AFP (Sep. 22, 2014) After a year of poor rains and heavy fighting Somalia is again at risk of famine, just three years after food shortages killed 260,000 people. Duration: 01:10 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Rockefeller Oil Heirs Switching To Clean Energy

Rockefeller Oil Heirs Switching To Clean Energy

Newsy (Sep. 22, 2014) The Rockefellers — heirs to an oil fortune that made the family name a symbol of American wealth — are switching from fossil fuels to clean energy. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins