Possible Changes in Natural Vegetation Patterns due to Global Warming

Leemans R (1990). Possible Changes in Natural Vegetation Patterns due to Global Warming. IIASA Working Paper. IIASA, Laxenburg, Austria: WP-90-008

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Abstract

The distribution of global vegetation patterns is strongly related to climate patterns. Local differences in soil characteristics and water availability, which are in turn also partly determined by climate, force the global vegetation patterns to become even more pronounced and the local patterns more diverse. The predicted global climate change, due to the increased levels of greenhouse gases, will thus have large impacts on broad-scale vegetation patterns. The Holdridge life zone classification is based on biotemperature (a heat sum), annual mean precipitation and a potential evapotranspiration ratio; it was used in the current paper to create an objective global vegetation (life zone) map. The map was created by interpolation of a large data base of weather stations to a grid of land cells with a resolution of 0.5". The climate scenario for future climate under double CO2 concentrations is based on results of the U.K. Meteorological Office general circulation model. Large changes in vegetation patterns are observed between the life zone classifications of present and future climate. The polar regions decrease most in their extent, and all boundaries between the different latitudinal regions move toward their poles. Most sensitive to climatic warming are the borders between the latitudinal regions. Changes are most clearly observable at the southern and northern edges of the boreal forest region. Limitations of the Holdridge classification to study impacts of climate change are discussed and improved approaches are proposed.

Item Type: Monograph (IIASA Working Paper)
Research Programs: Biosphere Dynamics (BIO)
Depositing User: IIASA Import
Date Deposited: 15 Jan 2016 02:00
Last Modified: 19 Jul 2016 09:51
URI: http://pure.iiasa.ac.at/3443

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