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CR 46:277-292 (2011)  -  DOI:

Sensitivity of natural vegetation to climate change in the Euro-Mediterranean area

A. Anav1,3,*, A. Mariotti1,2

1Italian National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development (ENEA), 00196 Rome, Italy
2Earth System Science Interdisciplinary Center, University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland 20740, USA
3Present Address: Laboratoire de Météorologie Dynamique, IPSL, Ecole Polytechnique 91128, Palaiseau Cedex, France

ABSTRACT: This study explores the sensitivity to future climate change of natural vegetation ­patterns in the Euro-Mediterranean area under the IPCC-A1B emission scenario, using a dynamic vegetation model forced by fully coupled high resolution regional ocean–atmosphere model simulations. Our results indicate that a future warmer climate could not only affect the regional terrestrial carbon cycle, but also significantly impact vegetation dynamics. Specifically, by 2021–2050, temperate deciduous vegetation is projected to replace boreal and grass vegetation in parts of northeastern Europe, while in North Africa, simulations show a progressive desertification. The changes in dominant vegetation are mainly related to the increased drought stress on vegetation and the enhanced fire frequency. As for the carbon cycle, large increases in net primary production (NPP) are found in northern Europe resulting from higher temperature and precipitation, as well as higher atmospheric CO2 levels. In contrast, smaller NPP increases are found in the Mediterranean region, where reduced precipitation and increased temperature leads to an increase in drought years and, hence, water-stress for vegetation.

KEY WORDS: Climate change · Vegetation cover change · Terrestrial carbon cycle · Regional climate model

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Cite this article as: Anav A, Mariotti A (2011) Sensitivity of natural vegetation to climate change in the Euro-Mediterranean area. Clim Res 46:277-292.

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