Climate as a driver of change in U.S. forests
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In: Dockry, Michael J.; Bengston, David N.; Westphal, Lynne M., comps. 2020. Drivers of change in U.S. forests and forestry over the next 20 years. Gen. Tech. Rep. NRS-P-197.
Climate exerts a major influence on the productivity, distribution, composition, and structure of forests. Temperatures are increasing globally, and these widespread temperature increases are resulting in local changes in temperature, precipitation, and extreme weather events across the continental United States. Changes have varied by region, and many of these regional differences will continue in the coming decades. The western United States has been experiencing an increase in drought, wildfire, and mountain pine beetle (Dendroctonus ponderosae) damage that is leading to losses in productivity. In the Midwest and East, increased heavy rain events and decreased winter severity have altered forest hydrology and induced range shifts for trees and biological stressors. The east coast is experiencing rising sea levels that threaten coastal forests with flooding and increased salinity. This region could also be subject to more severe hurricanes and other tropical storms in the coming decades. Climate change impacts may affect forest management operations, reduce windows of opportunity to conduct prescribed burns and harvest, or necessitate changes in timing of those activities. Direct and indirect effects of climate change on the Nation’s forests will influence the benefits that they provide, such as timber and nontimber forest products, recreation opportunities, clean water, and cultural values, in the coming decades. Climate change also presents opportunities to manage forests for increased carbon sequestration and develop strategies to adapt to change, which can help reduce the magnitude of some of these impacts.
Keywordsclimate change; precipitation changes; temperature changes; extreme weather; forest productivity; range shifts; forest management
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Brandt, Leslie. 2020. Climate as a driver of change in U.S. forests. In: Dockry, Michael J.; Bengston, David N.; Westphal, Lynne M., comps. 2020. Drivers of change in U.S. forests and forestry over the next 20 years. Gen. Tech. Rep. NRS-P-197. Madison, WI: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northern Research Station: 7–15. https://doi.org/10.2737/NRS-GTR-P-197-paper2.