Fire Weather Compromises Forestation-reliant Climate Mitigation Pathways
Abstract. Forestation can contribute to climate change mitigation. However, an increasing frequency and intensity of climate extremes is posed to have profound impact on forests, and consequently on the mitigation potential of forestation efforts. In this perspective, we critically assess forestation-reliant climate mitigation scenarios from five different Integrated Assessment Models (IAMs) by show-casing the spatially explicit exposure of forests to fire weather and the simulated increase in global annual burned area. We provide a detailed description of the feedback from climate change to forest carbon uptake in IAMs. Few IAMs are currently accounting for feedback mechanisms like loss from fire disturbance. Consequently many forestation areas proposed by IAM scenarios will be exposed to fire-promoting weather conditions and without costly prevention measures might be object to frequent burning. We conclude that the actual climate mitigation portfolio in IAM scenarios is subject to substantial uncertainty and that the risk of overly optimistic estimates of negative emission potential of forestation should be avoided. As a way forward we propose how to integrate more detailed climate information when modeling climate mitigation pathways heavily relying on forestation.
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