26 Jul 2023
 | 26 Jul 2023
Status: this preprint is open for discussion.

Impacts and damages of the European multi-year drought and heat event 2018–2022 on forests, a review

Florian Knutzen, Paul Averbeck, Caterina Barrasso, Laurens M. Bouwer, Barry Gardiner, José M. Grünzweig, Sabine Hänel, Karsten Haustein, Marius Rohde Johannessen, Stefan Kollet, Joni-Pekka Pietikaeinen, Karolina Pietras-Couffignal, Joaquim G. Pinto, Diana Rechid, Efi Rousi, Ana Russo, Laura Suarez-Gutierrez, Julian Wendler, Elena Xoplaki, and Daniel Gliksman

Abstract. Drought and heat events are becoming more frequent in Europe due to human-induced climate change, affecting many aspects of human well-being and ecosystem functioning. However, the intensity of these drought and heat events is not spatially and temporally uniform. Understanding the spatial variability of drought impacts is important information for decision makers, supporting both planning and preparations to cope with the changing climatic conditions. Currently, data relating to the damage caused by extended drought episodes is scattered across languages and sources such as scientific publications, governmental reports and the media. In this review paper, we compiled data of damages caused by the drought and heat of 2018 until 2022 in forest ecosystems and relate it to large European data sets, providing support for decision making both on the regional and European levels. We partitioned data from 16 European countries to the following regions: Northern, Central, Alpine, and South. We focused on drought and heat damage to forests, and categorized them as (1) physiological (2) pest, and (3) fire damage. We were able to identify the following key trends: (1) Relative defoliation rates of broadleaves is higher than of conifers in every country with the exception of Czech Republic (2) the incidence of wood destroyed by insects is extremely high in Central Europe and Sweden (3) Although forest fires can be related to heat and drought, they are superimposed by other anthropogenic influences (4) In this period (2018–2022), forests in central Europe are particularly affected, while forests in the Northern and Alpine zones are less affected, and adaptations to heat and drought can still be observed in the Southern zone. (5) Although in several regions 2021 was an average year still high levels of damages were observed indicating strong legacy effects of 2018–2020. We note that the inventory should be continuously updated as new data appear.

Florian Knutzen et al.

Status: open (until 22 Oct 2023)

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  • RC1: 'Comment on egusphere-2023-1463', Anonymous Referee #1, 01 Sep 2023 reply

Florian Knutzen et al.

Florian Knutzen et al.


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Short summary
With a team of 20 authors from different countries, we tried to compile the impacts of drought and heat on European forests in the period 2018–2022. This is a research approach that transcends subject and country borders.