Climate change's effects on temperate rain forests surprisingly complex

Jan 18, 2013

Longer, warmer growing seasons associated with a changing climate are altering growing conditions in temperate rain forests, but not all plant species will be negatively affected, according to research conducted by the U.S. Forest Service's Pacific Northwest Research Station.

Research featured in the January 2013 issue of Science Findings—a monthly publication of the station—reveals a complex range of forest plant responses to a warming climate.

"Although the overall potential for growth increases as the climate warms, we found that plant species differ in their ability to adapt to these changing conditions," said Tara Barrett, a research forester with the station who led the study.

Barrett and her colleagues explored trends in in southeastern and south-central Alaska, home to the bulk of the world's temperate rain forests. The researchers found an uptick in growth in higher elevations of the region over the 13-year period, with an almost 8-percent increase in live-tree biomass, a measure of tree growth. Individual species within the rain forest, however, differed—western redcedar biomass increased by four percent, while shore pine declined by almost five percent.

As consider like these in the management of their forests, scientists, including Barrett and research biologist David L. Peterson, are communicating climate change science within the agency, helping managers—in Alaska and beyond—to meet this challenge.

In another research effort, featured in the December 2012 issue of Science Findings, Peterson summarized the scientific basis for climate change adaptation. He and his colleagues across the country have conducted case studies that revealed the critical role of science-management partnerships in adaptation planning and have produced a climate change guidebook and Web portal for information.

"The main objective is to get science in the hands of managers so that they have the basic information but also have access to the documentation they need to do their jobs," said Peterson.

Explore further: CO2 emissions set to reach new 40 billion ton record high in 2014

More information: To read more about the studies online, visit www.treesearch.fs.fed.us/pubs/42402 (January, Science Findings) and www.treesearch.fs.fed.us/pubs/42317 (December, Science Findings).

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Recommended for you

World greenhouse emissions threaten warming goal

7 hours ago

Emissions of greenhouse gases are rising so fast that within one generation the world will have used up its margin of safety for limiting global warming to 2°C (3.6°F), an international team of scientists ...

Tens of thousands join London climate march

8 hours ago

Tens of thousands of people in London joined a global day of protest Sunday to demand action on climate change, among them British actress Emma Thompson who said the challenge to save the planet was like ...

UN summit to test commitment to climate fund

8 hours ago

A global fund created to spearhead climate change financing faces a key test at a UN summit this week when it looks to the leaders of the industrialised world to stump up billions of dollars to fill its underflowing ...

User comments : 0