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Climate Change and Forests: New England and Northern New York

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Webinar hosted by the Forest Stewards Guild.
Climate change is a growing concern for forests across the Northeast, and foresters and woodland owners are considering how to prepare for future conditions and how to evaluate risks for the lands that they own and manage. The USDA Forest Service has published a new report describing how climate change is expected to affect the 40 million acres of forest found in the region. A team of more than 30 scientists and land managers contributed to the report: New England and Northern New York Forest Ecosystem Vulnerability Assessment and Synthesis: A Report from the New England Climate Change Response Framework Project. Climate change is already having an impact on the region’s forests, increasing damage from extreme precipitation events and insect pests. Future changes could dramatically alter the landscape that characterizes the region. The report assesses the vulnerability of eight major community types in the region and provides a foundation that foresters can use to make ecosystems more resilient and adaptable to future conditions.

Published in: Environment
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Climate Change and Forests: New England and Northern New York

  1. 1. CLIMATE CHANGE AND FORESTS: NEW ENGLAND AND NORTHERN NEW YORK Maria Janowiak mjanowiak02@fs.fed.us Northern Institute of Applied Climate Science USDA Forest Service Climate Change Response Framework www.forestadaptation.org
  2. 2. A Warmer Climate 2017 was 3rd hottest year on record and hottest year without El Nino
  3. 3. Not Just Warmer Temperatures  More days with extreme heat  Precipitation increased >5 inches  Extreme rain events  Extreme storms  Coastal flooding Dan Turner, Cambridge Fire Dept. VTRANS/VT ANR NY DEC NOAA
  4. 4. Climate Change and Regional Forests NEW REPORT! www.nrs.fs.fed.us/pubs/55635 Additional resources: www.forestadaptation.org/ne-assessment
  5. 5. Climate Change and Regional Forests NEW REPORT! www.nrs.fs.fed.us/pubs/55635 Additional resources: www.forestadaptation.org/ne-assessment What’s at risk in YOUR forest?
  6. 6. This presentation… What’s at risk in YOUR forest? I’lltalkabout… Youthinkabout…
  7. 7. Uncertainty & Future Projections Not this: More like this:
  8. 8. All models project increased temperatures. All models project warming during all months. Temperature (⁰F) change 2081-2100 from 1961-2000 (higher emissions, A2)
  9. 9. All models project increased temperatures. All models project warming during all months. Temperature (⁰F) change 2081-2100 from 1961-2000 (higher emissions, A2) Lorenz et al. Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sept Oct Nov Dec Each line = one climate model projection (16 total); Red = mean; Blue = median 18 15 12 9 6 3 Temp increase from current (⁰F)
  10. 10. Models project seasonal changes in precipitation. Models consistently project wetter conditions during the colder months. Precipitation (in/month) change 2081-2100 compared to 1961-2000 = Lorenz et al. Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sept Oct Nov Dec Each line = one climate model projection (9 total); Red = mean; Blue = median +2.0 +1.0 0.0 -1.0 -2.0 Precip change from current (in/month)
  11. 11. Models project seasonal changes in precipitation. Models project relatively unchanged precipitation during the growing season. Precipitation (in/month) change 2081-2100 compared to 1961-2000 = Lorenz et al. Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sept Oct Nov Dec Each line = one climate model projection (9 total); Red = mean; Blue = median +2.0 +1.0 0.0 -1.0 -2.0 Precip change from current (in/month)
  12. 12. All models project increased temperatures. All models project warming during all months. Hayhoe et al. 2007, Lorenz et al. 2015, Lynch et al. 2016, National Climate Assessment, and more… Models project seasonal changes in precipitation. Models consistently project wetter conditions during the colder months. Models project relatively unchanged precipitation during the growing season.
  13. 13. Shorter Winter (Less Snow) Projected decreases in snow fall, cover, and depth  30-70% decreases in snowfall  Greatest loss in December/January Notaro et al. 2014, Figure: Frumhoff et al. 2007 Area with some snow on ground for 30 days per year Red = historic White = high emissions
  14. 14. Projected decreases in snow fall, cover, and depth  30-70% decreases in snowfall  Greatest loss in December/January Decreased snowpack  Increased soil freeze-thaw cycles can damage roots and alter soil processes Shorter Winter (Less Snow) What may be at risk: The ability to do winter timber harvest when it is preferred to prevent damage to forest soils and residual forest; tree species sensitive to soil freeze-thaw
  15. 15. More rain  Warmer temperatures  Increased precipitation  Extreme rain events Earlier peak stream flows  Flashiness and episodic high flows may increase Dale et al 2001, Huntingon 2004, Parmesan 2006 Shorter Winter (Less Snow, More Rain)
  16. 16. More rain  Warmer temperatures  Increased precipitation  Extreme rain events Earlier peak stream flows  Flashiness and episodic high flows may increase Dale et al 2001, Huntingon 2004, Parmesan 2006 Shorter Winter (Less Snow, More Rain) What may be at risk: Increased erosion/sedimentation on susceptible sites; culvert washouts and road damage from extreme events; aquatic habitats and species
  17. 17. Warmer temps result in longer growing seasons  Evidence of phenological shifts  Projected to increase 3-7+ more weeks Longer period for plant growth Melillo et al. 2014, Nelson Center 2014 Longer Growing Season
  18. 18. Warmer temps result in longer growing seasons  Evidence of phenological shifts  Projected to increase 3-7+ more weeks Longer period for plant growth Phenological changes/mismatches  Early bud break and frost damage from late spring freezing. Melillo et al. 2014, Nelson Center 2014 Longer Growing Season
  19. 19. Longer and warmer growing seasons may lead to drier conditions during the growing season. Water loss from soils (evaporation) Water loss from trees (transpiration) Groundwater recharge Runoff Precipitation Increased Risk of Moisture Stress
  20. 20. Longer and warmer growing seasons may lead to drier conditions during the growing season. Increased Risk of Moisture Stress Water loss from soils (evaporation) Water loss from trees (transpiration) Groundwater recharge Precipitation Runoff Earlier spring runoff and increased runoff during extreme rain events
  21. 21. Longer and warmer growing seasons may lead to drier conditions during the growing season. Increased Risk of Moisture Stress Water loss from soils (evaporation) Water loss from trees (transpiration) Groundwater recharge Runoff Precipitation Warmer temperatures drive water loss from soils and plants
  22. 22. Longer and warmer growing seasons may lead to drier conditions during the growing season. Increased Risk of Moisture Stress Water loss from soils (evaporation) Water loss from trees (transpiration) Groundwater recharge Runoff PrecipitationRisk may be greatest: • Sites with drought-prone or shallow soils • South-facing ridges • Mesic species on drier sites (marginal sites or off-site)
  23. 23. Changes in Forest Composition Many northern/boreal species are projected to decline in the region– contract to more northerly and higher-elevation locations Many species common farther south are expected to see increased and new habitat within the region.
  24. 24. Likely to decline  Balsam fir  Black, red, & white spruce  Northern white-cedar  Eastern hemlock  Black ash  Paper birch  Quaking aspen  Tamarack Mixed model results  American beech  Sugar & red maple  Yellow birch  White pine Potential “winners”  American elm  American basswood  Black cherry  Eastern hophornbeam  Gray birch  Northern red oak  Serviceberry  Silver maple  Sweet birch  White oak New habitat (esp. south)  Black hickory  Chinkapin oak  Common persimmon  Hackberry  Loblolly pine  Osage-orange  Shortleaf pine  Southern red oak  Sweetgum  Virginia pine www.forestadaptation/org/ne-species Changes in Forest Composition
  25. 25.  Many common tree species are projected to have reduced suitability in the future  Changes will occur slowly—not instant dieback  Mature and established trees should fare better  Immense lags to occupy habitats  Critical factors: competition, management, & disturbance Changes in Forest Composition Risk may be greatest: • Location is relatively near the southern extent of species range • Trees are projected to decline and located on a marginal site • Forest is composed of few species, esp. those projected to decline • Something is “missing” from the ecosystem • Other factors cause additional stress
  26. 26. Extreme Events Extreme events may become more frequent or severe  Heavy precipitation  Ice storms  Heat waves/droughts  Wind storms  Hurricanes  “Events” are not well modeled What may be at risk: Depends greatly on site conditions and susceptibility to different types of disturbance Photo: Joe Klementovich, HBRF
  27. 27. Interactions: Wildfire Wildfire may increase:  Warmer/drier summers  Increased stress or mortality from less suitable conditions  Shift toward fire-associated species like oaks and pines Wildfire may not change:  Spring/early summer moisture  Current regeneration of more mesic species  Spatial patterns of land use and fragmentation  Fire suppression Clark et al. 2014, Guyette et al. 2014 Future climate conditions suggest increased risk of fire. What may be at risk: Fire-dependent forests or areas of tree mortality when fire is not suppressed.
  28. 28. Interactions: Insects and Disease Indirect: Stress from other impacts increases susceptibility Direct:  Pests migrating northward  Decreased probability of cold lethal temperatures  Accelerated lifecycles Ayres and Lombardero 2000, Parmesan 2006, Dukes et al. 2009, Weed et al. 2013, Sturrock et al. 2011 Increased damage from forest insects & diseases Hemlock woolly adelgid incidence ~2015 Risk may be greatest: Presence of host species; pest is nearby; other factors reduce forest vigor
  29. 29. Interactions: Invasive Plants Indirect: Stress or disturbance from other impacts can affect the potential for invasion or success Direct:  Expanded ranges under warmer conditions  Increased competitiveness from ability of some plants to take advantage of elevated CO2 Dukes et al. 2009, Hellman et al. 2008; Images: Invasives Plants Atlas of New England (www.eddmaps.org) Increased habitat for many noxious plants Risk may be greatest: Presence of host species; pest is nearby; other factors reduce forest/understory vigor
  30. 30. Vulnerability: Forest Communities May have greater risk:  Low diversity  Static  Threatened, rare, or endangered  Already in decline  Fragmented May have less risk:  More diversity (species, genetics, …)  Adapted to disturbance  Wider ecological range of tolerances  Currently increasing  Larger, contiguous blocks Forest communities will be affected differently
  31. 31. Vulnerability: Spruce-fir and Lowland Conifer Impacts:  Warm temperatures  Declines in boreal tree species  Extreme storms Adaptive Capacity:  Generally slow to adjust to change  Constrained by elevation/latitude  Isolated mountaintops Generally rated as most vulnerable forest community, especially at southern extent of range.
  32. 32. Vulnerability rated as low (central hardwoods) or low-moderate (northern, transition hardwoods) based on species composition and location. Impacts:  Extreme storms  Several diseases, pests, invasives  Several northern species projected to decline Adaptive Capacity:  Mixed species forests  Several southern species projected to increase  Extensive type, exists farther south Vulnerability: Hardwood Forests
  33. 33. Vulnerability: Pitch Pine-Scrub Oak Impacts:  Less affected by warm temperatures, drought, or wildfire  Pitch pine habitat suitability not projected to change much Adaptive Capacity:  Limited to sandy, nutrient-poor soils  Affected by development, fragmentation, fire suppression Generally rated as lower-moderate vulnerability.
  34. 34. Vulnerability: Local Considerations Research and assessments describe broad trends but local conditions make the difference.
  35. 35. Where do we go from here? 1. Keep doing excellent forestry. Climate change just makes many forest management actions that much more important.
  36. 36. Where do we go from here? 2. Apply the latest science to the forests where you work. Research and assessments describe trends but local conditions make all the difference. Identify specific risks for your forests and sites.
  37. 37. Where do we go from here? 3. Use new information and look for ways to improve. Identify potential “tweaks” to management, as well as bigger changes that may be needed now or in the future.
  38. 38. Where do we go from here? 4. Communicate actions with colleagues and clients. Talk about potential risks, impacts, and new ways of managing forests with others. Share ideas and lessons learned.
  39. 39. Where do we go from here? 1. Keep doing excellent forestry. 2. Apply the latest science to the forests where you work. 3. Use new information and look for ways to improve. 4. Communicate actions with colleagues and clients. Forest Adaptation Projects: www.forestadaptation.org/demos
  40. 40. Resources Climate Change Impacts: Recent assessment & additional resources www.forestadaptation.org/ne-assessment Adaptation Resources: www.adaptationworkbook.org www.forestadaptation.org/far Or contact me Maria Janowiak mjanowiak02@fs.fed.us 906-482-6303 x1329 because helping real foresters is the best part of my job!

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