, Volume 87, Issue 1 Supplement, pp 215-230
Date: 30 Nov 2007

Response of vegetation distribution, ecosystem productivity, and fire to climate change scenarios for California

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The response of vegetation distribution, carbon, and fire to three scenarios of future climate change was simulated for California using the MC1 Dynamic General Vegetation Model. Under all three scenarios, Alpine/Subalpine Forest cover declined, and increases in the productivity of evergreen hardwoods led to the displacement of Evergreen Conifer Forest by Mixed Evergreen Forest. Grassland expanded, largely at the expense of Woodland and Shrubland, even under the cooler and less dry climate scenario where increased woody plant production was offset by increased wildfire. Increases in net primary productivity under the cooler and less dry scenario contributed to a simulated carbon sink of about 321 teragrams for California by the end of the century. Declines in net primary productivity under the two warmer and drier scenarios contributed to a net loss of carbon ranging from about 76 to 129 teragrams. Total annual area burned in California increased under all three scenarios, ranging from 9–15% above the historical norm by the end of the century. Annual biomass consumption by fire by the end of the century was about 18% greater than the historical norm under the more productive cooler and less dry scenario. Under the warmer and drier scenarios, simulated biomass consumption was initially greater, but then at, or below, the historical norm by the end of the century.

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