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Forests 2014, 5(3), 518-534; doi:10.3390/f5030518

Process-Based Modeling to Assess the Effects of Recent Climatic Variation on Site Productivity and Forest Function across Western North America

1
College of Forestry, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97331, USA
2
Department of Forest Resource Management, 2424 Main Mall, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z4, Canada
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 23 December 2013 / Revised: 11 February 2014 / Accepted: 17 March 2014 / Published: 24 March 2014
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Abstract

A process-based forest growth model, 3-PG (Physiological Principles Predicting Growth), parameterized with values of soil properties constrained by satellite-derived estimates of maximum leaf area index (LAImax), was run for Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) to contrast the extent to which site growth potential might vary across western North America between a cool, wet period (1950–1975) and a more recent, generally warmer and drier one (2000–2009). LAImax represents a surrogate for overall site growth potential, as demonstrated from a strong correlation between the two variables, with the latter based on the culmination of mean annual increment estimates made at 3356 ground-based U.S. Forest Service survey plots across the states of Oregon and Washington. Results indicate that since 2000, predicted LAImax has decreased more than 20% in portions of the Southwest USA and for much of the forested area in western Alberta. Similar percentage increases in LAImax were predicted for parts of British Columbia, Idaho and Montana. The modeling analysis included an assessment of changes in seasonal constraints on gross primary production (GPP). A general reduction in limitations caused by spring frost occurred across the entire study area. This has led to a longer growing season, along with notable increases in summer evaporative demand and soil drought for much of the study area away from the maritime influence of the Pacific Ocean. View Full-Text
Keywords: climate change; 3-PG model; productivity; leaf area index; Douglas-fir; FIA survey plots climate change; 3-PG model; productivity; leaf area index; Douglas-fir; FIA survey plots
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Waring, R.H.; Coops, N.C.; Mathys, A.; Hilker, T.; Latta, G. Process-Based Modeling to Assess the Effects of Recent Climatic Variation on Site Productivity and Forest Function across Western North America. Forests 2014, 5, 518-534.

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