Sustainability of temperate forests to warming associated with local microclimate

Local changes in the climate have a greater impact on forest ecosystems than global macroclimatic processes: they can restrain the response of communities and individual plant species to warming and to aggravate it as a result of violations of local habitats. According to the authors of a study published in the journal Science, it calls into question the accuracy of previously obtained results of forecasting of forest ecosystems using global meteorological data.

At present, predictions of the response of forest ecosystems to climate change are built on the basis of data from weather stations and describe the macro environment. Measure the temperature of the air used in such studiesusually are conducted at a height of 1.2-2 meters above the grass layer. It’s not too accurately reflects the microclimatic conditions of forests, their ecosystem, in contrast to the steppes or tundra, characterized by a tiered vertical structure. In English-language scientific publications, as a rule, contains two major layers: the canopy of the forest, i.e. thick dense crowns (canopy) and the space below the canopy (subcanopy). The temperature difference between the layers can reach several degrees.

In ecosystems of the planet everywhere observed termofisica — gradual replacement of species vulnerable to climate change, they are more thermophilous competitors. In the forests of this process is significantly slowed down, and a clear understanding of why this is so, until recently, was not.

Scientists under the leadership of Zellweger Florian (Florian Zellweger) from the University of Cambridge studied the microclimate in temperate forests. They measured the temperature of the air in the forest canopy and the undergrowth on 2955 sites in 56 regions of Europe. The primary observations were carried out in 1934, and again in 2017.

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