Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-2024-1028
https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-2024-1028
26 Apr 2024
 | 26 Apr 2024
Status: this preprint is open for discussion.

Disentangling future effects of climate change and forest disturbance on vegetation composition and land-surface properties of the boreal forest

Lucia S. Layritz, Konstantin Gregor, Andreas Krause, Stefan Kruse, Ben F. Meyer, Tom A. M. Pugh, and Anja Rammig

Abstract. Forest disturbances can cause shifts in boreal vegetation cover from predominantly evergreen to deciduous trees or non-forest dominance. This, in turn, impacts land surface properties and, potentially, regional climate. Accurately considering such shifts in future projections of vegetation dynamics under climate change is crucial but hindered e.g. uncertainties in future disturbance regimes. In this study, we investigate how sensitive future projections of boreal forest dynamics are to additional changes in disturbance regimes. We use the dynamic vegetation model LPJ-GUESS to investigate and disentangle the impacts of climate change and intensifying disturbance regimes in future projections of boreal vegetation cover as well as changes in land surface properties such as albedo and evapotranspiration. Our simulations find that warming alone drives shifts towards more densely forested landscapes, and more intense disturbances reduce tree cover in favor of shrubs and grasses, while the interaction between climate and disturbances leads to an expansion of deciduous trees. Our results additionally indicate that warming decreases albedo and increases evapotranspiration, while more intense disturbances have the opposite effect, potentially offsetting climate impacts. Warming and disturbances are thus comparably important agents of change in boreal forests. Our findings highlight future disturbance regimes as a key source of model uncertainty and underscore the necessity of accounting for disturbances-induced effects on vegetation composition and land surface-atmosphere feedback.

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Lucia S. Layritz, Konstantin Gregor, Andreas Krause, Stefan Kruse, Ben F. Meyer, Tom A. M. Pugh, and Anja Rammig

Status: open (until 12 Jun 2024)

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Lucia S. Layritz, Konstantin Gregor, Andreas Krause, Stefan Kruse, Ben F. Meyer, Tom A. M. Pugh, and Anja Rammig

Model code and software

LPJ-GUESS Release v4.1.1 model code J. Nord et al. https://zenodo.org/records/8065737

Lucia S. Layritz, Konstantin Gregor, Andreas Krause, Stefan Kruse, Ben F. Meyer, Tom A. M. Pugh, and Anja Rammig

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Short summary
Disturbances (e.g. fire) can change which species grow in a forest, affecting water, carbon, energy flows, and the climate. They are expected to increase with climate change, but it is uncertain by how much. We studied how future climate and disturbances might impact vegetation with a simulation model. Our findings highlight the importance of considering both factors, with future disturbance patterns posing significant uncertainty. More research is needed to understand their future development.