Date: 31 Oct 2007

Modeling potential climate change impacts on the trees of the northeastern United States

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Abstract

We evaluated 134 tree species from the eastern United States for potential response to several scenarios of climate change, and summarized those responses for nine northeastern United States. We modeled and mapped each species individually and show current and potential future distributions for two emission scenarios (A1fi [higher emission] and B1 [lower emission]) and three climate models: the Parallel Climate, the Hadley CM3, and the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory model. Climate change could have large impacts on suitable habitat for tree species in this region, especially under a high emissions trajectory. Results indicate that while species with potentially increasing areas of suitable habitat in the Northeastern US substantially outnumber those with decreasing areas of habitat, there are key species that show diminishing habitat area: balsam fir (Abies balsamea), paper birch (Betula papyrifera), red spruce (Picea rubens), bigtooth and quaking aspen (Populus grandidentata and P. tremuloides), and black cherry (Prunus serotina). From these results we identified the top 10 losers and gainers for each US state in the region by scenario and emissions trajectory. By combining individual species importance maps and developing assembly rules for various classes, we created maps of potential forest types for the Northeast showing a general loss of the spruce–fir zone with advancing oak–hickory type. Further data, maps, and analysis can be found at http://www.nrs.fs.fed.us/atlas.