2013-05-05 New Study: As Climate Changes, Boreal Forests to Shift North and Relinquish More Carbon Than Expected

posted May 23, 2013, 5:21 PM by Alan Gould
Excerpt: ...Boreal forests will likely shift north at a steady clip this century. Along the way, the vegetation will relinquish more trapped carbon than most current climate models predict. ...research is published online May 5 in the journal Nature Geoscience. Boreal ecosystems encircle the planet’s high latitudes, covering swaths of Canada, Europe, and Russia in coniferous trees and wetlands. This vegetation stores vast amounts of carbon, keeping it out of the atmosphere where it can contribute to climate change. ...the Berkeley Lab research tells a different story. The planet’s boreal forests won’t expand poleward. Instead, they’ll shift poleward. The difference lies in the prediction that as boreal ecosystems follow the warming climate northward, their southern boundaries will be overtaken by even warmer and drier climates better suited for grassland. And that’s a key difference. Grassland stores a lot of carbon in its soil, but it accumulates at a much slower rate than is lost from diminishing forests. ...“Most Earth system models don’t predict this, which means they overestimate the amount of carbon that high-latitude vegetation will store in the future,” he adds. http://newscenter.lbl.gov/news-releases/2013/05/05/boreal/  Dan Krotz    Lawrence Berkeley National Lab News Center