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Future Forest Ecosystems of the U.S. Northern Great Lakes Region

Paper Reviewed
Peters, E.B., Wythers, K.R., Zhang, S., Bradford, J.B. and Reich, P.B. 2013. Potential climate change impacts on temperate forest ecosystem processes. Canadian Journal of Forest Research 43: 939-950.

Writing in the Canadian Journal of Forest Research, Peters et al. (2013) describe how they applied the well-tested PnET-CN ecosystem model that simulates carbon, water and nitrogen dynamics in forests over time - as per Aber et al. (1996, 1997), Ollinger et al. (2002) and Peters et al. (2012) - in order to "compare the long-term effects of changing climate and atmospheric CO2 on productivity, evapotranspiration, runoff and net nitrogen mineralization in current Great Lakes forest types," noting that outputs from this model "have been previously corroborated in the Great Lakes region for current forest productivity, net N mineralization, leaf area index, and foliar nitrogen concentrations," again citing Peters et al. (2012). This they did with the help of "two statistically downscaled climate projections, PCM B1 (warmer and wetter) and GFDL A1F1 (hotter and drier)," in order to represent "two potential future climate and atmospheric CO2 scenarios." So what did they find?

For the period 1960-2099, the five researchers determined that "changes in evapotranspiration could range from -3% to +6%, runoff could increase from 2% to 22%, and net nitrogen mineralization could increase 10% to 12%," while average regional productivity could increase from a substantial 67% to a whopping 142%! And in regard to these last two figures, they say that the increased productivity "was almost entirely driven by CO2 fertilization effects, rather than by temperature or precipitation."

Truly, CO2 will rule the future world of nature.

Aber, J.D. and Driscoll, C.T. 1997. Effects of land use, climate variation, and N deposition on N cycling and C storage in northern hardwood forests. Global Biogeochemical Cycles 11: 639-648.

Aber, J.D., Reich, P.B. and Goulden, M.L. 1996. Extrapolating leaf CO2 exchange to the canopy: a generalized model of forest photosynthesis compared with measurements by eddy correlation. Oecologia 106: 257-265.

Ollinger, S.V., Aber, J.D., Reich, P.B. and Freuder, R.J. 2002. Interactive effects of nitrogen deposition, tropospheric ozone, elevated CO2 and land use history on the carbon dynamics of northern hardwood forests. Global Change Biology 8: 545-562.

Peters, E.B., Wythers, K.R., Bradford, J.B. and Reich, P.B. 2012. Influence of disturbance on temperate forest productivity. Ecosystems 16: 95-110.

Posted 2 December 2014