Recent Changes in Climate and Forest Ecosystems

Chapter
Part of the Advances in Global Change Research book series (AGLO, volume 57)

Abstract

In recent decades, gradual warming over the long term has been punctuated by droughts that facilitate widespread ecological disturbances. Although no single event can be attributed to climate change, it is reasonable to infer that a permanently warmer climate will escalate disturbances, causing a much faster change in ecosystem structure and function than a gradual increase in warming. Various species of pine beetles have spread across large land areas in Alaska, the western United States, and southern United States, in some cases attacking tree species that have not experienced previous outbreaks. Area burned by wildfire has been especially high during the 2000s. A reduction in the quantity and persistence of snow in mountainous regions is affecting the hydrology of forest ecosystems and downstream water supply. Interactions of multiple disturbances and stressors may result in new combinations of species and ecosystem conditions for which there is no precedent in historical or paleoecological records. Rapid shifts in climate and disturbance may strain both the resilience of forest ecosystems and the capacity of social systems and management institutions. In the future, shifting the management focus from restoring systems to building resilience will be a more viable strategy for retaining key ecological functions and ecosystem services.

Keywords

Forest Ecosystem Pacific Decadal Oscillation Snow Water Equivalent Fire Severity Fire Suppression 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

References

  1. Andreadis, K. M., & Lettenmaier, D. P. (2006). Trends in 20th century drought over the continental United States. Geophysical Research Letters, 33, L10403. doi: 10.1029/2006GL025711.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Breshears, D. B., Cobb, N. S., Rich, P. M., et al. (2005). Regional vegetation die-off in response to global-change-type drought. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA, 102, 15144–14148.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Canadell, J. G., Le Quéré, C., Raupach, M. R., et al. (2007). Contributions to accelerating atmospheric CO2 growth from economic activity, carbon intensity, and efficiency of natural sinks. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA, 104, 18866–18870.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Clow, D. W. (2010). Changes in the timing of snowmelt and streamflow in Colorado: A response to recent warming. Journal of Climate, 23, 2293–2306.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Fagre, D. B., Charles, C. W., Allen, C. D., et al. (2009). Thresholds of climate change in ecosystems: A report by the U.S. Climate Change Science Program and the Subcommittee on Global Change Research (70pp). Reston: U.S. Department of the Interior, Geological Survey.Google Scholar
  6. Feng, S., & Hu, Q. (2007). Changes in winter snowfall/precipitation ratio in the contiguous United States. Journal of Geophysical Research, 112, D15109. doi: 10.1029/2007JD008397.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Gibson, K., Skov, K., Kegley, S. et al. (2008). Mountain pine beetle impacts in high-elevation five-needle pines: Current trends and challenges (R1-08-020, 32pp). Missoula: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Forest Health Protection.Google Scholar
  8. Gould, S. J., & Eldredge, N. (1977). Punctuated equilibria: The tempo and mode of evolution reconsidered. Paleobiology, 3, 115–151.Google Scholar
  9. Granshaw, F. D., & Fountain, A. G. (2006). Glacier change (1958–1998) in the North Cascades National Park Complex, Washington, USA. Journal of Glaciology, 52, 251–256.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Groisman, P. Y., & Knight, R. W. (2008). Prolonged dry episodes over the conterminous United States: New tendencies emerging during the last 40 years. Journal of Climate, 21, 1850–1862.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Grundstein, A., & Mote, T. L. (2010). Trends in average snow depth across the western United States. Physical Geography, 31, 172–185.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Hayes, J. L., & Lundquist, J. E. (compilers). (2009). The western bark beetle research group: A unique collaboration with forest health protection—Proceedings of a symposium at the 2007 Society of American Foresters conference (Gen. Tech. Rep. PNW-GTR-784, 134pp). Portland: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station.Google Scholar
  13. Hodge, S. M., Trabant, D. C., Krimmel, R. M., et al. (1998). Climate variations and changes in mass of three glaciers in western North America. Journal of Climate, 11, 2161–2179.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Isaac, V., & van Wijngaarden, W. A. (2012). Surface water vapor pressure and temperature trends in North America during 1948–2010. American Meteorological Society, 25, 3599–3609.Google Scholar
  15. Josberger, E. G., Bidlake, W. R., March, R. S., & Kennedy, B. W. (2007). Glacier mass-balance fluctuations in the Pacific Northwest and Alaska, USA. Annals of Glaciology, 46, 291–296.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Karl, T. R., Melillo, J. M., Peterson, T. C., & Hassol, S. J. (Eds.). (2009). Global climate change impacts in the United States. A report of the U.S. Global Change Research Program (192pp). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  17. Karl, T. R., Gleason, B. E., Menne, M. J., et al. (2012). U.S. temperature and drought: Recent anomalies and trends. EOS, Transactions of the American Geophysical Union, 93(47), 473.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Kunkel, K. E., Palecki, M. A., Ensor, L., et al. (2009). Trends in twentieth-century U.S. extreme snowfall seasons. Journal of Climate, 22, 6204–6216.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Littell, J. S., McKenzie, D., Peterson, D. L., & Westerling, A. L. (2009). Climate and wildfire area burned in the western U.S. ecoprovinces, 1916–2003. Ecological Applications, 19, 1003–1021.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. MacDonald, G. M. (2007). Severe and sustained drought in southern California and the West: Present conditions and insights from the past on causes and impacts. Quaternary International, 173, 87–100.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. McCabe, G. J., & Wolock, D. M. (2010). Long-term variability in Northern hemisphere snow cover and associations with warmer winters. Climatic Change, 99, 141–153.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. McKenzie, D., Gedalof, Z., Peterson, D. L., & Mote, P. (2004). Climatic change, wildfire and conservation. Conservation Biology, 18, 890–902.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Meddens, A. J. H., Hicke, J. A., & Ferguson, C. A. (2012). Spatiotemporal patterns of observed bark beetle-caused tree mortality in British Columbia and the western United States. Ecological Applications, 22, 1876–1891.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Millar, C. L., Westfall, R. D., Delany, D. L., et al. (2012). Forest mortality in high-elevation whitebark pine (Pinus albicaulis) forests of eastern California, USA: Influence of environmental context, bark beetles, climatic water deficit, and warming. Canadian Journal of Forest Research, 42, 749–786.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Miller, J. D., Skinner, C. N., Safford, H. D., et al. (2012). Trends and causes of severity, size, and number of fires in northwest California, USA. Ecological Applications, 22, 184–203.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Mishra, V., & Lettenmaier, D. P. (2011). Climatic trends in major U.S. urban areas, 1950–2009. Geophysical Research Letters, 38, L16401. doi: 10.1029/2011GL048255.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Mishra, V., Michael, J. P., Boyles, R., et al. (2012). Reconciling the spatial distribution of the surface temperature trends in the southeastern United States. Journal of Climate, 25, 3610–3618.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Morgan, P., Heyerdahl, E. K., & Gibson, C. E. (2008). Multi-season climate synchronized forest fires throughout the 20th century, Northern Rockies, USA. Ecology, 89, 717–728.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Moser, S. C., & Luers, A. L. (2008). Managing climate risks in California: The need to engage resource managers for successful adaptation to change. Climatic Change, 87, S309–S322.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Mote, P. W., Hamlet, A. F., Clark, M. P., & Lettenmaier, D. P. (2005). Declining mountain snowpack in western North America. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, 86, 39–49.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS). (n.d.). U.S. drought portal. http://www.drought.gov/drought
  32. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Climate Data Center (NCDC). (n.d.). http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc
  33. Nowak, J. T. (2004). Southern pine beetle prevention and restoration. Forest Landowners Conference Proceedings, 63, 21–22.Google Scholar
  34. Pederson, G. T., Gray, S. T., Woodhouse, C. A., et al. (2011). The unusual nature of recent snowpack declines in the North American Cordillera. Science, 333, 332–335.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Peterson, D. L., Millar, C. I., Joyce, L. A. et al. (2011). Responding to climate change on national forests: A guidebook for developing adaptation options (Gen. Tech. Rep. PNW-GTR-855, 109pp). Portland: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station.Google Scholar
  36. Shaw, J. D., Steed, B. E., & DeBlander, L. T. (2005). Forest inventory and analysis (FIA) annual inventory answers the question: What is happening to pinyon-juniper woodlands? Journal of Forestry, 103, 280–285.Google Scholar
  37. Sullivan, B. K., & Doan, L. (2012, October 29). Sandy brings hurricane-force gusts after New Jersey landfall. Washington Post. http://washpost.bloomberg.com/Story?docId=1376-MCMWP11A1I4H01-2DUORIV7RUREVIT7O7L4UFGTVF
  38. Tans, P., & Keeling, R. (n.d.). Recent Mauna Loa CO 2. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration/Earth System Research Laboratory and Scripps Institute of Oceanography. http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/ccgg/trends
  39. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA). (n.d.(a)). Climate change indicators in the United States, U.S. and global temperature. http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/science/indicators/weather-climate/temperature.html
  40. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA). (n.d.(b)). Greenhouse gas emissions, carbon dioxide emissions. http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/ghgemissions/gases/co2.html
  41. Walsh, K. J. E., & Ryan, B. F. (2000). Tropical cyclone intensity increase near Australia as a result of climate change. Journal of Climate, 13, 3029–3036.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Westerling, A. L., Hidalgo, H. G., Cayan, D. R., & Swetnam, T. W. (2006). Warming and earlier spring increase western U.S. forest wildfire activity. Science, 313, 940–943.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Wikipedia. (n.d.). List of costliest Atlantic hurricanes. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_costliest_Atlantic_hurricanes. Accessed 18 Dec 2012.
  44. Williams, J. W., & Jackson, S. T. (2007). Novel climates, no-analog communities, and ecological surprises. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, 5, 475–482.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Wiseman, M. G. (2012, October 26). How US drought damaged economy as well as crops. Bloomberg Businessweek News. http://www.businessweek.com/ap/2012-10-26/how-us-drought-damaged-economy-as-well-as-crops
  46. Wolken, J. M., Hollingsworth, T. N., Rupp, T. S., et al. (2011). Evidence and implications of recent and projected climate change in Alaska’s forest ecosystems. Ecosphere, 2(11):124. doi: 10.1890/ES11-00288.1 Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht (outside the USA) 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Pacific Northwest Research StationU.S. Forest ServiceSeattleUSA
  2. 2.Northern Institute of Applied Climate ScienceMichigan Technological UniversityHoughtonUSA

Personalised recommendations