Special Issue "Impact of Natural Hazards on Forest Ecosystems and Their Surrounding Landscape under Climate Change"

A special issue of Water (ISSN 2073-4441). This special issue belongs to the section "Hydrology and Hydrogeology".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (15 September 2020).

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Jaroslav Vido
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Natural Environment, Faculty of Forestry, Technical University in Zvolen, T.G. Masaryka 24, 960 01 Zvolen
Interests: hydrology; landscape ecology; forest ecology; bioclimatology; agrometeorology
Dr. Paulína Nalevanková
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Natural Environment, Faculty of Forestry, Technical University in Zvolen, T.G. Masaryka 24, 960 01 Zvolen
Interests: tree physiology; biometeorology; forestry

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The Special Issue we are presenting today is focused on natural hazards and their impacts on forest ecosystems and their surrounding landscape under climate change. The most present research on climate change as demonstrated by RCP (representative concentration pathway) scenarios assumes an increase in the extremity of climate conditions up to the end of this century. This will be manifested by a higher frequency of torrential rains, flash floods, landslides, drought episodes, forest and wildfires, wind and snow calamities as well as pest and pathogen outbreaks in forest landscapes. Therefore, the priority of the proposed Special Issue is to present contemporary advances in forest and landscape research dealing with abovementioned in addition to any other relevant natural hazards linked to water balances and their variation in the climate of the future. We are also inviting research papers dealing with ecological and socioeconomic impact assessment of natural hazards in forest landscapes. Our invitation is also open to researchers focusing on technological or policy solutions relevant to the mentioned problems.

Dr. Jaroslav Vido
Dr. Paulína Nalevanková
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • Natural hazards
  • Climate change
  • Forest ecosystems
  • Plant physiology
  • Water balance
  • Landscape ecology
  • Impact assessment
  • Technology and policy

Published Papers (12 papers)

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Editorial

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Editorial
Impact of Natural Hazards on Forest Ecosystems and Their Surrounding Landscape under Climate Change
Water 2021, 13(7), 979; https://doi.org/10.3390/w13070979 - 02 Apr 2021
Viewed by 448
Abstract
In the last decades, the increasing frequency of natural hazards has impacted forest ecosystems and their surroundings [...] Full article

Research

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Article
Density of Seasonal Snow in the Mountainous Environment of Five Slovak Ski Centers
Water 2020, 12(12), 3563; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12123563 - 18 Dec 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 453
Abstract
Climate change affects snowpack properties indirectly through the greater need for artificial snow production for ski centers. The seasonal snowpacks at five ski centers in Central Slovakia were examined over the course of three winter seasons to identify and compare the seasonal development [...] Read more.
Climate change affects snowpack properties indirectly through the greater need for artificial snow production for ski centers. The seasonal snowpacks at five ski centers in Central Slovakia were examined over the course of three winter seasons to identify and compare the seasonal development and inter-seasonal and spatial variability of depth average snow density of ski piste snow and uncompacted natural snow. The spatial variability in the ski piste snow density was analyzed in relation to the snow depth and snow lances at the Košútka ski center using GIS. A special snow tube for high-density snowpack sampling was developed (named the MM snow tube) and tested against the commonly used VS-43 snow tube. Measurements showed that the MM snow tube was constructed appropriately and had comparable precision. Significant differences in mean snow density were identified for the studied snow types. The similar rates of increase for the densities of the ski piste snow and uncompacted natural snow suggested that the key density differences stem from the artificial (machine-made) versus natural snow versus processes after and not densification due to snow grooming machines and skiers, which was relevant only for ski piste snow. The ski piste snow density increased on slope with decreasing snow depth (18 kg/m³ per each 10 cm), while snow depth decreased 2 cm per each meter from the center of snow lances. Mean three seasons maximal measured density of ski piste snow was 917 ± 58 kg/m³ the density of ice. This study increases the understanding of the snowpack development processes in a manipulated mountainous environment through examinations of temporal and spatial variability in snow densities and an investigation into the development of natural and ski piste snow densities over the winter season. Full article
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Article
Impact of Water Deficit on Seasonal and Diurnal Dynamics of European Beech Transpiration and Time-Lag Effect between Stand Transpiration and Environmental Drivers
Water 2020, 12(12), 3437; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12123437 - 08 Dec 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 512
Abstract
In-situ measurements of tree sap flow enable the analysis of derived forest transpiration and also the water state of the entire ecosystem. The process of water transport (by sap flow) and transpiration through vegetation organisms are strongly influenced by the synergistic effect of [...] Read more.
In-situ measurements of tree sap flow enable the analysis of derived forest transpiration and also the water state of the entire ecosystem. The process of water transport (by sap flow) and transpiration through vegetation organisms are strongly influenced by the synergistic effect of numerous external factors, some of which are predicted to alter due to climate change. The study was carried out by in-situ monitoring sap flow and related environmental factors in the years 2014 and 2015 on a research plot in Bienska dolina (Slovakia). We evaluated the relationship between derived transpiration of the adult beech (Fagus sylvatica L.) forest stand, environmental conditions, and soil water deficit. Seasonal beech transpiration (from May to September) achieved 59% of potential evapotranspiration (PET) in 2014 and 46% in 2015. Our study confirmed that soil water deficit leads to a radical limitation of transpiration and fundamentally affects the relationship between transpiration and environmental drivers. The ratio of transpiration (E) against PET was significantly affected by a deficit of soil water and in dry September 2015 decreased to the value of 0.2. The maximum monthly value (0.8) of E/PET was recorded in August and September 2014. It was demonstrated that a time lag exists between the course of transpiration and environmental factors on a diurnal basis. An application of the time lags within the analysis increased the strength of the association between transpiration and the variables. However, the length of these time lags changed in conditions of soil drought (on average by 25 min). Transpiration is driven by energy income and connected evaporative demand, provided a sufficient amount of extractable soil water. A multiple regression model constructed from measured global radiation (RS), air temperature (AT), and air humidity (RH) explained 69% of the variability in beech stand transpiration (entire season), whereas (RS) was the primary driving force. The same factors that were shifted in time explained 73% of the transpiration variability. Cross-correlation analysis of data measured in time without water deficit demonstrated a tighter dependency of transpiration (E) on environmental drivers shifted in time (−60 min RS, +40 min RH and +20 min vapour pressure deficit against E). Due to an occurrence and duration of soil water stress, the dependence of transpiration on the environmental variables became weaker, and at the same time, the time lags were prolonged. Hence, the course of transpiration lagged behind the course of global radiation by 60 (R2 = 0.76) and 80 (R2 = 0.69) minutes in conditions without and with water deficit, respectively. Full article
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Article
Carabus Population Response to Drought in Lowland Oak Hornbeam Forest
Water 2020, 12(11), 3284; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12113284 - 23 Nov 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 588
Abstract
Forest management practices and droughts affect the assemblages of carabid species, and these are the most important factors in terms of influencing short- and long-term population changes. During 2017 and 2018, the occurrences and seasonal dynamics of five carabid species (Carabus coriaceus, [...] Read more.
Forest management practices and droughts affect the assemblages of carabid species, and these are the most important factors in terms of influencing short- and long-term population changes. During 2017 and 2018, the occurrences and seasonal dynamics of five carabid species (Carabus coriaceus, C. ulrichii, C. violaceus, C. nemoralis and C. scheidleri) in four oak hornbeam forest stands were evaluated using the method of pitfall trapping. The climate water balance values were cumulatively calculated here as cumulative water balance in monthly steps. The cumulative water balance was used to identify the onset and duration of drought. The number of Carabus species individuals was more than three times higher in 2018 than in 2017. Spring activity was influenced by temperature. The extremely warm April in 2018 accelerated spring population dynamics; however, low night temperatures in April in 2017 slowed the spring activity of nocturnal species. Drought negatively influenced population abundance, and the effect of a drought is likely to be expressed with a two-year delay. In our investigation, a drought in 2015 started in May and lasted eight months; however, the drought was not recorded in 2016, and 2016 was evaluated as a humid year. The meteorological conditions in the year influenced seasonal activity patterns and the timings of peaks of abundance for both spring breeding and autumn breeding Carabus species. Full article
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Article
Estimating the Effect of Deforestation on Runoff in Small Mountainous Basins in Slovakia
Water 2020, 12(11), 3113; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12113113 - 06 Nov 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 519
Abstract
The paper aims to assess the impact of deforestation due to windstorms on runoff in small mountain river basins. In the Boca and Ipoltica River basins, changes in forested areas were assessed from available historical and current digital map data. Significant forest losses [...] Read more.
The paper aims to assess the impact of deforestation due to windstorms on runoff in small mountain river basins. In the Boca and Ipoltica River basins, changes in forested areas were assessed from available historical and current digital map data. Significant forest losses occurred between 2004 and 2012. During the whole period of 1990–2018, forested areas in the Boca river decreased from 83% to 47% and in the Ipoltica River basin from 80% to 70%. Changes in runoff conditions were assessed based on an assessment of changes in the measured time series of the hydrometeorological data for the years 1981–2016. An empirical hydrological model was used to determine the design peak discharges before and after significant windstorms were estimated for different rain intensities and return periods. The regional climate scenario for the period 2070–2100 was used to assess the current impact of climate change and river basin deforestation on predicted changes in design floods in the coming decades. The effect of deforestation became evident in the extreme discharges, especially in future decades. In the Boca River basin, the estimated design floods increased by 59%, and in the Ipoltica River basin by 172% in the case of the 100-year return period. Full article
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Article
Drought or Severe Drought? Hemiparasitic Yellow Mistletoe (Loranthus europaeus) Amplifies Drought Stress in Sessile Oak Trees (Quercus petraea) by Altering Water Status and Physiological Responses
Water 2020, 12(11), 2985; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12112985 - 24 Oct 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 727
Abstract
European oak species have long been considered relatively resistant to different disturbances, including drought. However, several recent studies have reported their decline initiated by complex changes. Therefore, we compared mature sessile oak trees (Quercus petraea (Matt.), Liebl.) infested versus non-infested by hemiparasitic [...] Read more.
European oak species have long been considered relatively resistant to different disturbances, including drought. However, several recent studies have reported their decline initiated by complex changes. Therefore, we compared mature sessile oak trees (Quercus petraea (Matt.), Liebl.) infested versus non-infested by hemiparasitic yellow mistletoe (Loranthus europaeus Jacq.) during the relatively dry vegetation season of 2019. We used broad arrays of ecophysiological (maximal assimilation rate Asat, chlorophyll a fluorescence, stomatal conductance gS, leaf morphological traits, mineral nutrition), growth (tree diameter, height, stem increment), and water status indicators (leaf water potential Ψ, leaf transpiration T, water-use efficiency WUE) to identify processes underlying vast oak decline. The presence of mistletoe significantly reduced the Ψ by 1 MPa, and the WUE by 14%. The T and gS of infested oaks were lower by 34% and 38%, respectively, compared to the non-infested oaks, whereas the Asat dropped to 55%. Less pronounced but significant changes were also observed at the level of photosystem II (PSII) photochemistry. Moreover, we identified the differences in C content, which probably reduced stem increment and leaf size of the infested trees. Generally, we can conclude that mistletoe could be a serious threat that jeopardizes the water status and growth of oak stands. Full article
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Article
Influence of Warmer and Drier Environmental Conditions on Species-Specific Stem Circumference Dynamics and Water Status of Conifers in Submontane Zone of Central Slovakia
Water 2020, 12(10), 2945; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12102945 - 21 Oct 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 543
Abstract
The frequency and intensity of droughts and heatwaves in Europe with notable impact on forest growth are expected to increase due to climate change. Coniferous stands planted outside the natural habitats of species belong to the most threatened forests. In this study, we [...] Read more.
The frequency and intensity of droughts and heatwaves in Europe with notable impact on forest growth are expected to increase due to climate change. Coniferous stands planted outside the natural habitats of species belong to the most threatened forests. In this study, we assess stem circumference response of coniferous species (Larix decidua and Abies alba) to environmental conditions during the years 2015–2019. The study was performed in Arboretum in Zvolen (ca. 300 m a.s.l., Central Slovakia) characterised by a warmer and drier climate when compared to their natural habitats (located above 900 m a.s.l.), where they originated from. Seasonal radial variation, tree water deficit (ΔW), and maximum daily shrinkage (MDS) were derived from the records obtained from band dendrometers installed on five mature trees per species. Monitored species exhibited remarkably different growth patterns under highly above normal temperatures and uneven precipitation distribution. The magnitudes of reversible circumference changes (ΔW, MDS) were species-specific and strongly correlated with environmental factors. The wavelet analysis identified species-specific vulnerability to drought indicated by pronounced diurnal stem variation periodicity in rainless periods. L. decidua exhibited more strained stem water status and higher sensitivity to environmental conditions than A. alba. Tree water deficit and maximum daily shrinkage were found appropriate characteristics to compare water status of different tree species. Full article
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Article
Long-Term Temporal Changes of Precipitation Quality in Slovak Mountain Forests
Water 2020, 12(10), 2920; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12102920 - 19 Oct 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 503
Abstract
The paper is focused on the evaluation of long-term changes in the chemical composition of precipitation in the mountain forests of Slovakia. Two stations with long-term measurements of precipitation quality were selected, namely the station of the EMEP (European Monitoring and Evaluation Programme) [...] Read more.
The paper is focused on the evaluation of long-term changes in the chemical composition of precipitation in the mountain forests of Slovakia. Two stations with long-term measurements of precipitation quality were selected, namely the station of the EMEP (European Monitoring and Evaluation Programme) network Chopok (2008 m a.s.l.) and the station of the ICP Forests (International Co-operative Programme on Assessment and Monitoring of Air Pollution Effects on Forests) network Poľana-Hukavský grúň (850 m a.s.l.). All basic chemical components were analyzed, namely sulfur (S-SO4), nitrogen (N-NH4, N-NO3), and base cations (Ca, Mg, and K) contained in precipitation. The time changes of the individual components were statistically evaluated by the Mann–Kendall test and Kruskal–Wallis test. The results showed significant declining trends for almost all components, which can significantly affect element cycles in mountain forest ecosystems. The evaluated forty one-year period (1987 to 2018) is characterized by significant changes in the precipitation regime in Slovakia and the obtained results indicate possible directions in which the quantity and quality of precipitation in the mountainous areas of Slovakia will develop with ongoing climate change. Full article
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Article
Carbon Balance and Streamflow at a Small Catchment Scale 10 Years after the Severe Natural Disturbance in the Tatra Mts, Slovakia
Water 2020, 12(10), 2917; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12102917 - 19 Oct 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 550
Abstract
Natural disturbances (windthrow, bark beetle, and fire) have reduced forest cover in the Tatra National Park (Slovakia) by 50% since the year 2004. We analyzed carbon fluxes and streamflow ten years after the forest destruction in three small catchments which differ in size, [...] Read more.
Natural disturbances (windthrow, bark beetle, and fire) have reduced forest cover in the Tatra National Park (Slovakia) by 50% since the year 2004. We analyzed carbon fluxes and streamflow ten years after the forest destruction in three small catchments which differ in size, land cover, disturbance type and post-disturbance management. Point-wise CO2 fluxes were estimated by chamber methods for vegetation-dominated land-use types and extrapolated over the catchments using the site-specific regressions with environmental variables. Streamflow characteristics in the pre- and post-disturbance periods (water years of 1965–2004 and 2005–2014, respectively) were compared to identify changes in hydrological cycle initiated by the disturbances. Mature Norway spruce forest which was carbon neutral, turned to carbon source (330 ± 98 gC m−2 y−1) just one year after the wind disturbance. After ten years most of the windthrow sites acted as carbon sinks (from −341 ± 92.1 up to −463 ± 178 gC m−2 y−1). In contrast, forest stands strongly infested by bark beetles regenerated much slowly and on average emitted 495 ± 176 gC m−2 year−1. Ten years after the forest destruction, annual carbon balance in studied catchments was almost neutral in the least disturbed catchment. Carbon uptake notably exceeded its release in the most severely disturbed catchment (by windthrow and fire), where net ecosystem exchange (NEE) was −206 ± 115 gC m−2. The amount of sequestered carbon in studied catchments was driven by the extent of fast-growing successional vegetation cover (represented by the leaf area index LAI) rather than by the disturbance or vegetation types. Different post-disturbance management has not influenced the carbon balance yet. Streamflow characteristics did not indicate significant changes in the hydrological cycle. However, greater cumulative decadal runoff, different median monthly flows and low flows and the greater number of flow reversals in the in the first years after the windthrow in two severely affected catchments could be partially related to the influence of the disturbances. Full article
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Article
Drought in the Upper Hron Region (Slovakia) between the Years 1984–2014
Water 2020, 12(10), 2887; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12102887 - 16 Oct 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 598
Abstract
Climate change causes an increase in the frequency and severity of weather extremes. One of the most relevant severe and damaging phenomena in Europe is drought. However, a difference in the spatial frequency of the occurrence and drought trends is evident between southern [...] Read more.
Climate change causes an increase in the frequency and severity of weather extremes. One of the most relevant severe and damaging phenomena in Europe is drought. However, a difference in the spatial frequency of the occurrence and drought trends is evident between southern and northern Europe. Central Europe and particularly the West Carpathian region form a transitional zone, and drought patterns are complicated because of the geomorphologically complicated landscape. Since almost half of the Slovak state territory is represented by such natural landscape, it is necessary to investigate regional drought specifics. Therefore, we decided to analyze drought occurrence and trends using the SPI (Standardised Precipitation Index) and the SPEI (Standardised Precipitation Evapotranspiration Index) at available climatological stations of the Slovak Hydrometeorological Institute (SHMI) in the upper Hron region within the 1984–2014 period. We found that (1) drought incidence decreased with increasing altitude, (2) increasing air temperature increased the difference in drought trends between lowlands and mountains during the studied period, and (3) abrupt changes in time series of drought indices, that could indicate some signals of changing atmospheric circulation patterns, were not revealed. Finally, we constructed a simplified map of drought risk as an explanation resource for local decision-makers. Full article
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Article
A Complex Method for Estimation of Multiple Abiotic Hazards in Forest Ecosystems
Water 2020, 12(10), 2872; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12102872 - 15 Oct 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 563
Abstract
Forest ecosystems are faced with a variety of threats, including increasingly prolonged droughts and other abiotic stresses such as extreme high temperatures, very strong wind, invasive insect outbreaks, and the rapid spread of pathogens. The aim of the study was to define crucial [...] Read more.
Forest ecosystems are faced with a variety of threats, including increasingly prolonged droughts and other abiotic stresses such as extreme high temperatures, very strong wind, invasive insect outbreaks, and the rapid spread of pathogens. The aim of the study was to define crucial abiotic stressors affecting Central Europe forest ecosystems and, with regard to their possible simultaneous effect, develop a universal method of multi-hazard evaluation. The method was then applied to the particular area of interest represented by part of the Czech Republic with forest land cover (12–19 ° E, 48–51 ° N). Based on National Threat Analysis, the most significant threats of natural origin with a close relationship to forest stability were identified as drought, high temperature, and wind gusts. Using suitable indicators, a level of their risk based on occurrence and consequences was estimated. The resulting combined level of risk, divided into five categories, was then spatially expressed on a grid map. The novelty of our paper lies in: (i) all relevant climatic data were combined and evaluated simultaneously with respect to the different level of risk, (ii) the developed methodological road map enables an application of the method for various conditions, and (iii) multiple hazards were estimated for the case study area. Full article
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Article
Autumn Phenological Response of European Beech to Summer Drought and Heat
Water 2020, 12(9), 2610; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12092610 - 18 Sep 2020
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 577
Abstract
The changes in precipitation and temperature regimes brought on by the current climate change have influenced ecosystems globally. The consequences of climate change on plant phenology have been widely investigated during the last few years. However, the underlying causes of the timing of [...] Read more.
The changes in precipitation and temperature regimes brought on by the current climate change have influenced ecosystems globally. The consequences of climate change on plant phenology have been widely investigated during the last few years. However, the underlying causes of the timing of autumn phenology have not been fully clarified yet. Here, we focused on the onset (10%) of leaf colouring—LCO—(Biologische Bundesanstalt, Bundessortenamt und Chemische Industrie (BBCH) 92) of European beech (Fagus sylvatica, L.) as an important native tree species growing throughout Europe. Studied beech stands are located along the natural distribution range of the European beech in Western Carpathians (Slovakia) at different altitudes from lowlands (300 m a.s.l.) to uplands (1050 m a.s.l.) and climatic regions from warm to cold. To define limiting climate conditions for LCO, we established several bioclimatic indices as indicators of meteorological drought: climatic water balance (CWB), standardized precipitation index (SPI), standardized precipitation-evapotranspiration index (SPEI), dry period index (DPI), and heat waves (HW). In addition, meteorological variables such as monthly mean temperatures and precipitation totals were taken into account. Throughout the 23-year period (1996–2018) of ground-based phenological observations of temperate beech forests, the timing of LCO was significantly delayed (p ≤ 0.05) in the middle to high altitudes, while in the lowest altitude, it remained unchanged. Over the last decade, 2009–2018, LCO in middle altitudes started at comparable to low altitudes and, at several years, even later. This resulted mainly from the significant negative effect of drought prior to this phenological phase (p ≤ 0.01) expressed through a 1-month SPI in September (SPIIX) at the stand at the low-altitude and warm-climatic region. Our results indicate that the meteorological drought conditioned by lower total precipitation and higher evapotranspirative demands in the warmer climate advance leaf senescence. However, at present time, growth in rising temperature and precipitation is acceptable for most beech stands at middle to high altitudes. Beech utilizes these conditions and postpones the LCO by 0.3–0.5 and 0.6–1.2 day per year at high and middle altitudes, respectively. Although we show the commencing negative effect of drought at mid-altitudes with lower (below 700 mm) total annual precipitation, the trend of LCO in favourable warm climates is still significantly delayed. The ongoing warming trend of summer months suggests further intensification of drought as has started to occur in middle altitudes, spreading from the continual increase of evapotranspiration over the next decades. Full article
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