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Global Climate Change DigestArchives of the
Global Climate Change Digest

A Guide to Information on Greenhouse Gases and Ozone Depletion
Published July 1988 through June 1999


Impacts And Adaptation: Impacts on Forests, Ecosystems, & Species

Item #d98may30

"Climate Warming, Wildfire Hazard, and Wildfire Occurrence in Coastal Eastern Spain," J. Pi˝ol (Centre de Recerca Ecol˛gica i Aplicacions Forestals, Univ. Aut˛noma de Barcelona, 08193 Bellaterra, Spain), J. Terradas, F. Lloret,Clim. Change, 38(3), 345-357, Mar. 1998.

Two separate wildfire hazard indices calculated for the period 1941 to 1994 increase in mean value and in the number of very high risk days. Fire statistics for 1968 to 1994 are correlated with these indices. Results support a relationship between wildfires and climatic warming.

Item #d98may31

"Impact of Global Warming on the Distribution and Survival of the Gelada Baboon: A Modelling Approach," R.I.M. Dunbar (Population Biol. Res. Group, Sch. Life Sci., Nicholson Bldg., Univ. Liverpool, POB 147, Liverpool L69 3BX, UK),Global Change Biology, 4(3), 293-304, Mar. 1998.

A systems model of the socio-ecology of the gelada, a primate found in the Ethiopian highlands that is unusually sensitive to ambient temperature, shows that 7░C warming would threaten the survival of the species by confining it to a small number of isolated mountain peaks. Concomitant changes in agriculture would further constrain habitat.

Item #d98may32

"Net Primary and Ecosystem Production and Carbon Stocks of Terrestrial Ecosystems and Their Responses to Climate Change," M. Cao (Dept. Animal & Plant Sci., Univ. Sheffield, Sheffield S10 2TN, UK; e-mail:, F.I. Woodward,Global Change Biology, 4(2), 185-198, Feb. 1998.

Describes a model for investigating terrestrial carbon exchange and its response to climatic variation, based on the processes of photosynthesis, carbon allocation, litter production and soil organic carbon decomposition. Predicts a strong enhancement in net primary production and carbon stocks of terrestrial ecosystems.

Item #d98may33

"Phytoplankton Change in the North Atlantic," P.C. Reid (Sir Alister Hardy Foundation for Ocean Sci., The Laboratory, Citadel Hill, Plymouth PL1 2PB, UK; e-mail:, M. Edwards et al.,Nature, 391(6667), 546, Feb. 5, 1998.

Observations provide the first marine surface time-series evidence for a vegetation response to what seems to be climatic forcing. This has implications for CO2 fluxes and the productivity of the North Atlantic.

Item #d98may34

"Making Mistakes When Predicting Shifts in Species Range in Response to Global Warming," A.J. Davis (Ecol. & Evolution Group, Biol. Dept., The University, Leeds, Yorkshire LS2 9JT, UK), L.S. Jenkinson et al.,Nature, 391(6669), 783-786, Feb. 19, 1998.

Discusses problems with the "climate envelope" approach typically used to predict biotic responses to climate change, by using microcosm experiments on simple but realistic assemblages to show how misleading that approach can be. Dispersal and interactions, important elements of population dynamics, must be included.

Item #d98may35

"Reid's Paradox of Rapid Plant Migration: Dispersal Theory and Interpretation of Paleoecological Records," J.S. Clark (Dept. Botany, Duke Univ., Durham NC 27708), C. Fastie et al.,BioScience, 48(1), 13-24, Jan. 1998.

Describes recent views on the nature of plant species migration, based on two workshops held in 1996. (See Research News, this Global Climate Change Digest issue--April-May 1998.)

Item #d98may36

"Temperature and Egg-Laying Trends," R.H.. McCleery (Grey Inst. Field Ornithol., Dept. Zoology, Univ. Oxford, S. Parks Rd., Oxford OX1 3PS, UK), C.M. Perrins (e-mail:,Nature, 391(6662), 30-31, Jan. 1, 1998.

Field observations provide partial support for the theory that laying dates for many British birds have become earlier between 1971 and 1995.

Item #d98may37

"Modeling Dynamic Vegetation Response to Rapid Climate Change Using Bioclimatic Classification," A.P. Kirilenko (U.S. EPA NHEERL WED, 200 SW 35th St., Corvallis OR 97333), A.M. Solomon,Clim. Change, 38(1), 15-49, Jan. 1998.

Develops a model to study the potential impact on terrestrial carbon stocks of predicted climate shifts that treats vegetative migration and succession as dynamic variables. It predicts new temperate and boreal biomes, not found on the landscape today, which increase rapidly in area during the first 100 years of simulated response. Their presence for several centuries adds uncertainty in calculating future terrestrial carbon fluxes.

Item #d98may38

"Climate Change and Forest Fire Potential in Russian and Canadian Boreal Forests," B.J. Stocks (Canadian Forest Service, Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Can.), M.A. Fosberg et al.,Clim. Change, 38(1), 1-13, Jan. 1998.

Scenarios generated by four GCMs all indicate large increases in the areal extent of extreme fire danger in both countries under doubled CO2. More fire activity in the future is a virtual uncertainty; the likely response will be more intensive protection of smaller, high-value areas, and a return to natural fire regimes over larger areas of both Canada and Russia, with resultant significant impacts on the carbon budget.

Item #d98may39

"The Effects of Water Table Manipulation and Elevated Temperature on the Net CO2 Flux of Wet Sedge Tundra Ecosystems," W.C. Oechel (Global Change Res. Group, Dept. Biol., San Diego State Univ., San Diego CA 92182; e-mail:, G.L. Vourlitis et al., Global Change Biology, 4(1), 77-90, Jan. 1998.

Field experiments suggest that many currently saturated or nearly saturated wet sedge ecosystems of the North slope of Alaska may become significant sources of CO2 if climate change predictions are realized. There is ample evidence that this may already be occurring in arctic Alaska.

Item #d98may40

"Wildlife and Climate Change: Assessing the Sensitivity of Selected Species to Simulated Doubling of Atmospheric CO2," K.M. Johnston, O.J. Schmitz (Sch. Forestry, Yale Univ., 370 Prospect St., New Haven CT 06511; e-mail:, Global Change Biology, 3(6), 531-544, Dec. 1997.

Computer simulations for elk, deer, ground squirrel and chipmunk show altered thermal conditions will have little effect on the species' distributions. They are more likely to be influenced by vegetation changes.

Item #d98may41

"Tundra Plants and Climate Change: The International Tundra Experiment (ITEX)," G.H.R. Henry (Dept. Geog., Univ. British Columbia, Vancouver BC V6T 1Z2, Can.; e-mail:, U. Molau,Global Change Biology, 3(Suppl. 1), 1-9, Dec. 1997.

Overviews papers in a special issue of the journal from the Sixth ITEX Workshop (Ottawa, April 1995), which compare short-term responses (1-3 years) of common species to climate variations and manipulations at ITEX sites. All species investigated responded to the temperature increase, but responses were individualistic and there were no general patterns for functional types or phenology classes.

Item #d98may42

"The Sensitivity and Adaptation of Ecosystems to the Disturbances: A Case Study in Northeastern Estonia," J.-M. Punning (Inst. Ecol., Kevade 2, Tallinn EE-0001, Estonia) T. Toff et al.,Mitigation & Adaptation Strategies for Global Change, 2(1), 1-17, 1997.

Paleological reconstruction, using data from sediments of a northeast Estonian lake, indicate the high ability of the studied ecosystem to adapt to the impact of natural fires in a climatic environment comparable to that predicted for the future.

Item #d98may43

"CO2 Increases Oceanic Primary Production," M. Hein (Freshwater Biol. Lab., Univ. Copenhagen, Helsingorsgade 51, DK-3400 Hillerod, Denmark; e-mail:, Nature, 388(6642), 526-527, Aug. 7, 1997.

Results from short-term experiments in the nutrient-poor central Atlantic Ocean show small but significant stimulation (15-19%) of primary production in response to the simulated CO2 rise in surface waters over the next 100-200 years.

Item #d98may44

"Forest Response to Disturbance and Anthropogenic Stress: Rethinking the 1938 Hurricane and the Impact of Physical Disturbance vs. Chemical and Climate Stress on Forest Ecosystems," D.R. Foster (Harvard Forest, Harvard Univ., Petersham MA 01366), J.D. Aber et al.,BioScience, 47(7), 437-445, July-Aug. 1997.

While the site of this hurricane blowdown in southern New England exhibits severe physical disturbance, internal processes have not been altered significantly. In contrast, plots subjected to chronic nitrogen deposition and soil warming appear healthy, but subtle measures of ecosystem function suggest serious imbalances, with possible ecological implications for the future.

Item #d98may45

"Future Climate in the Yellowstone National Park Region and Its Potential Impact on Vegetation," P.J. Bartlein (Dept. Geog., Univ. Oregon, Eugene OR 97403; e-mail:, C. Whitlock, S.L. Shafer,Conserv. Biol., 11(3), 782-792, June 1997.

Illustrates the potential impact on distributions of selected tree taxa, taking account of the mountainous character of the region by interpolating coarse GCM output to a fine mesh. The new communities projected have no analog in present-day vegetation. Although the results support conservation strategies that include habitat connectivity, the magnitude of the changes may exceed the ability of species to adjust their ranges. This study also calls into question the adequacy of current management objectives.

Item #d98may46

"Temperature Effects on the Acidity of Remote Alpine Lakes," S. Sommaruga-W÷grath,..R. Psenner (Inst. Zool. & Limnol., Univ. Innsbruck, 6020 Innsbruck, Austria; e-mail:,Nature, 387(6628), 64-67, May 1, 1997.

A study of 57 remote, high-elevation lakes in the Alps shows that between 1985 and 1995, lake pH and the concentrations of sulfate, base cations and silica have increased, contrary to trends in atmospheric input. Proposes that the changes likely result from 1░C increase in air temperature since 1985, and concludes that climate warming is a determining factor for water chemistry in remote alpine lakes.

Item #d98may47

"Raised Levels of Marine Aerosol Deposition Owing to Increased Storm Frequency: A Cause of Forest Decline in Southern Sweden?" M.E.R. Gustafsson (Earth Sci. Ctr., Dept. Phys. Geog., G÷teborg Univ., S-413 81 G÷teborg, Swed.),Agric. & Forest Meteor., 84(1-2), 169-177, Mar. 1997.

Investigates the possibility that the increased frequency of gales since the 1960s, possibly related to changing climate, is involved in forest decline observed over a similar period.

Item #d98may48

"Regional Impacts of Climatic Change on Forests in the State of Brandenburg, Germany," M. Lindner (Inst. for Clim. Impact Res., POB 601203, D-14412 Potsdam, Ger.; e-mail:, H. Bugmann et al.,Agric. & Forest Meteor., 84(1-2), 123-135, Mar. 1997.

This study applies two forest gap models in three climate scenarios and draws various conclusions regarding impacts on the region. Climate change could have considerable consequences for future competitive relationships between species in the study area.

Item #d98may49

"Elevation Dependency of the Surface Climate Change Signal: A Model Study," F. Giorgi (NCAR, POB 3000, Boulder CO 80307; e-mail:, J.W. Hurrell et al.,J. Clim., 10(2), 288-296, Feb. 1997.

Presents results from a present-day and a doubled CO2 experiment over the European Alpine region using a nested regional climate model. The simulated temperature change signal shows a substantial elevation dependency, consistent with some observed temperature trends in the region, suggesting that high elevation temperature changes could be used as an early detection tool for global warming.

Item #d98may50

"The Role of DOC in Protecting Freshwaters Subjected to Climatic Warming and Acidification from UV Exposure," D.W. Schindler (Dept. Biol. Sci., Univ. Alberta, Edmonton AB T6G 2E9, Can.), P.J. Curtis,Biogeochem., 36(1), 1-8, Jan. 1997.

Summarizes eight other papers in a special issue of this journal from a 1994 workshop on this topic.

Item #d98may51

"Forest Response to Climate Change: Do Simulations Predict Unrealistic Dieback?" C. Loehle (Environ. Res. Div., Argonne Natl. Lab., 9700 S. Cass Ave., Argonne IL 60439),J. Forestry, pp. 13-15, Sep. 1996.

Because most current forest growth models, as a class tend to predict severe impacts on forests from climate change, they are thought to be probably correct despite uncertainties. This paper points out several weaknesses in the models, and argues that they tend to predict forest dieback where none is likely and predict range shrinkages over decades that could actually take centuries or even millenia. Reducing fossil fuel emissions on the basis of such questionable predictions is hazardous.

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