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How the Forests of Southern China Respond and Adapt to Future Climate Change?
Update time: [December 05, 2016]
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Global mean surface temperature has increased since the late 19th century, and the warming trend will continue influencing the structure and function of forest ecosystems. Recently more attention has been paid to the forest responses and adaptations to climate change.

A research team from Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research (IGSNRR) under the Chinese Academy of Sciences, used forest dynamic landscape model (LANDIS-II) and forest ecosystem process model (PnET-II) to simulate the changes of the forest distribution and aboveground biomass (AGB).

They explored the potential responses under three representative concentration pathways (RCPs) scenarios, RCP2.6, RCP4.5 and RCP8.5, as well as a control scenario for the period of 2010–2100 in Taihe County in southern China.

The results show that evergreen broad-leaved forests will expand into Chinese fir and Chinese weeping cypress forests under climate change. The total AGB under RCP4.5 will reach its highest level by the year 2100.

“Our results suggest that there will be certain responsive differences between different forest types. Evergreen broad-leaved forests show more adaptive capability than that of coniferous forests to future climate warming. Much greater warming may be not conducive to these non-native species (including some deciduous species) establishment, especially without any human intervention.” said the Prof. DAI Erfu.

In the future, some adaptation strategies and measures for climate change should be considered into regional forest management. Furthermore, land use change, deforestation and other disturbances should also be incorporated to cope with global climate change.

The study has been published in the journal of Global Change Biology (ERFU DAI, ZHUO WU, QUANSHENG GE, WEIMIN XI and XIAOFAN WANG. Predicting the responses of forest distribution and aboveground biomass to climate change under RCP scenarios in southern China. Global Change Biology (2016) 22, 3642-3661, doi: 10.1111/gcb.13307).


This figure shows the spatial distribution of forest AGB under various climate scenarios in 2010 and 2100. It can be found that forest AGB of the high value zone increased significantly, while the low value zone decreased. By 2100, the low values zone under RCP8.5 is lower than other climate scenarios.(Image by DAI Erfu)

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