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CR 31:75-84 (2006)  -  doi:10.3354/cr031075

Assessment of the impacts of climate change and weather extremes on boreal forests in northern Europe, focusing on Norway spruce

Peter Schlyter1,*, Ingrid Stjernquist1, Lars Bärring2, Anna Maria Jönsson3, Carin Nilsson2

1Department of Physical Geography and Quaternary Geology, Stockholm University, 106 91 Stockholm, Sweden
2Geobiosphere Science Centre, Department of Physical Geography and Ecosystems Analysis, Lund University, Sölvegatan 12, 223 62 Lund, Sweden
3Department of Ecology, Plant Ecology and Systematics, Lund University, Ecology Building, 223 62 Lund, Sweden

ABSTRACT: The boreal and boreo-nemoral forests in Europe, which occur in northern and northeastern Europe, are dominated by 2 coniferous species, Norway spruce Picea abies (L.) Karst. being economically the most important one. Forestry is of major economic importance in this region. Forestry planning and climate change scenarios are based on similar (long-term) timescales, i.e. between 70 and 120 yr. Within the EU project ‘Modelling the Impact of Climate Extremes’ (MICE), we have used ‘present day’ runs (1961–1990) and future scenarios (2070–2100, emission scenarios A2 and B2 from the Special Report on Emissions Scenarios [SRES]) of the HadRM3 regional climate model to study and model direct and indirect effects of changing climate on Norway spruce in Sweden and northern Europe. According to our results, extreme climate events like spring temperature backlashes and summer drought will increase in frequency and duration. In combination with a raised mean temperature, climate extremes will negatively precondition trees (i.e. increase their susceptibility) to secondary damage through pests and pathogens. Decreased forest vitality also makes stands more susceptible to windthrow. Storm damage is discussed based on a 100 yr storm damage record for Sweden. Marginally increased frequencies and windspeeds of storms may cause disproportionate increases in windthrow. Increased economic hazards can be expected from a combination of the increased volumes of wind-thrown timber, and a greater likelihood of additional generations of spruce bark beetle Ips typographus (further encouraged by the increase in fallen timber), as a result of a changing climate with warmer summers.

KEY WORDS: Drought · Frost · Windstorm damage · Insect damage · Modelling · Forestry

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