The impact of rising CO2 and acclimation on the response of US forests to global warming
Our present-day models don't do physiology or acclimation. They matter absolutely enormously to the future of forests. We came up with ways to incorporate those.
- William Anderegg, study co-author, University of Utah
- States that the benefit of climate change for forests is that higher atmospheric CO2 allows trees to use less water and photosynthesize more
- States that the problem of climate change is that warmer temperatures make trees use more water and photosynthesize less
- Predicts the outcome of these opposing influences using a physiologically realistic model which accounted for the potential adjustment in forest leaf area and related traits to future conditions
- Finds that if forests fail to adjust, only 55% of climate projections predict a CO2 increase large enough to prevent warming from causing significant drought and mortality
- Finds that if forests can adjust, the percentage of favorable outcomes rises to 71%; however, uncertainty remains in whether trees can adjust rapidly and in the scatter among climate projections