, Volume 16, Issue 2, pp 119-142

Impact of climate change on Indian forests: a dynamic vegetation modeling approach

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Abstract

We make an assessment of the impact of projected climate change on forest ecosystems in India. This assessment is based on climate projections of the Regional Climate Model of the Hadley Centre (HadRM3) and the dynamic global vegetation model IBIS for A2 and B2 scenarios. According to the model projections, 39% of forest grids are likely to undergo vegetation type change under the A2 scenario and 34% under the B2 scenario by the end of this century. However, in many forest dominant states such as Chattisgarh, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh up to 73%, 67% and 62% of forested grids are projected to undergo change. Net Primary Productivity (NPP) is projected to increase by 68.8% and 51.2% under the A2 and B2 scenarios, respectively, and soil organic carbon (SOC) by 37.5% for A2 and 30.2% for B2 scenario. Based on the dynamic global vegetation modeling, we present a forest vulnerability index for India which is based on the observed datasets of forest density, forest biodiversity as well as model predicted vegetation type shift estimates for forested grids. The vulnerability index suggests that upper Himalayas, northern and central parts of Western Ghats and parts of central India are most vulnerable to projected impacts of climate change, while Northeastern forests are more resilient. Thus our study points to the need for developing and implementing adaptation strategies to reduce vulnerability of forests to projected climate change.