DOI: 10.1139/cjfr-2023-0058 ISSN:

Assessing future climate trends and implications for managed forests across Canadian ecozones

Amy R Wotherspoon, Alexis Achim, Nicholas C. Coops
  • Ecology
  • Forestry
  • Global and Planetary Change

Climate change interacts with ecological processes leading to changes in tree and forest growth rate, biome shifts and species composition, all of which are influenced by disturbances. This study explores future overarching climate trends of eight of Canada’s ecozones containing managed forests. For the 2071 to 2100 period, climate projections indicate a warming trend of up to an additional 5.5°C and an overall increase in annual precipitation by the end of the century. Future trends suggest marked contrast between coastal and interior forests and polarization between western and eastern forests. Warmer temperatures, accumulating degree-days above 5°C and frost-free days suggest longer and drier growing seasons and greater risk of drought particularly in moisture-limited areas such as montane cordillera, taiga shield and boreal shield ecozones. Warmer temperatures and rising precipitation combined with less precipitation falling as snow suggest shorter and wetter future winters. This indicates greater risk of rain-on-snow and freeze-thaw events, flooding and landslides, particularly in coastal ecozones. We discuss how these projections are likely to result in shifts in dominant species and abundance which, when coupled with the cumulative effects of future disturbances, is likely to alter future forest dynamics and impact harvestable wood volumes for Canada’s forestry industry.

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