, Volume 37, Issue 4, pp 683-708

Model Computations on the Effects of Elevating Temperature and Atmospheric CO2 on the Regeneration of Scots Pine at the Timber Line in Finland

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Abstract

Based on model computations, the regeneration of Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.) was studied at the northern timber line in Finland (70°N) in relation to elevating temperature and atmospheric CO2. If a transient increase of 4°C was assumed during the next 100 years, the length of growing season increased from the current 110–120 days to 150–160 days. This was associated with ca. 5°C increase in the soil temperature over June–August with larger variability in temperature and deeper freezing of the soil due to the reduced depth and duration of the snow cover. At the same time, the moisture content of the surface soil decreased ca. 10% and was more variable, due to less infiltration of water into the soil as a consequence of the enhanced evapotranspiration and deeper freezing of the soil. The temperature elevation alone, or combined with elevating CO2, increased flowering and the subsequent seed crop of Scots pine with a decrease in the frequency of zero crops. In both cases, temperature elevation substantially increased the success of regeneration in terms of the number of seedlings produced after each seed crop. The increasing number of mature seeds was mainly responsible for the enhanced regeneration, but increasing soil temperature also increased the success of regeneration. The soil moisture was seldom limited for seed germination. In terms of the density of seedling stands, and the height and diameter growth of the seedlings, the establishment of a seedling stand was substantially improved under the combined elevation of temperature and CO2 in such a way that the temperature increased the number of mature seeds and enhanced germination of seeds and CO2 increased seedling growth. Even under the changing climatic conditions, however, the growth of the seedling stands was slow, which indicated that the northward advance of the timber line would probably be very slow, even though regeneration was no longer a limiting factor.