The hotter it gets, the more forests act as insulators

The hotter it gets, the more forests act as insulators
(Left) Illustration of the microclimate buffer and the separation between the microclimate under a tree canopy and macroclimate outside the forest understory. (Right) Vertical cross section of forest cover (Compiègne state forest) made within a LiDAR point cloud. The upper and lower curves indicate the temperature above and below the forest canopy, respectively: the denser the forest cover and the more confined the topography, the cooler the forest microclimate below the canopy during summer. Plant cover and topography play a role in forests' ability to insulate. Credit: © Lenoir et al./ONF/CNRS : https://doi.org/10.1111/ecog.02788

Using data from about 100 sites worldwide, an international research team has demonstrated that forest cover acts as a global thermal insulator by cooling the understory when the air temperature is high. This buffer effect is well known, but this study is the first that has evaluated this worldwide in temperate, boreal and tropical forests.

Maximum temperatures are on average 4 degrees C lower in forests than outside them, with much higher differences for than others. The researchers have also shown that the hotter the external conditions, the greater a 's buffering capacity.

On the basis of this observation, management strategies can be proposed to improve forest microclimates and limit the harmful effects of global warming on biodiversity.

This study published in Nature Ecology & Evolution on 1 April 2019 was an initiative by Pieter De Frenne at the Université of Ghent and Jonathan Lenoir, CNRS researcher at the Laboratoire Écologie et Dynamique des Systèmes Anthropisés (CNRS/Université de Picardie Jules Verne).


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More information: Pieter De Frenne et al. Global buffering of temperatures under forest canopies, Nature Ecology & Evolution (2019). DOI: 10.1038/s41559-019-0842-1
Journal information: Nature Ecology & Evolution

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Citation: The hotter it gets, the more forests act as insulators (2019, April 2) retrieved 21 May 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2019-04-hotter-forests-insulators.html
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