Can Future CO2 Concentrations Mitigate the Negative Effects of High Temperature and Longer Droughts on Forest Growth?

Short Description

Background: Climate change may subject forests to climate conditions to which they are not adapted. Elevated temperatures can potentially reduce net photosynthesis by increasing respiration rates and increasingly long droughts dramatically increase morbidity. While CO2 enrichment enhances productivity, it is not clear to what extent CO2 enrichment can offset the negative effects of elevated temperatures and longer droughts.

Methods: We used a mechanistic landscape model to conduct controlled simulation experiments manipulating CO2concentration, temperature, drought length and soil water capacity; (3) Results: We found that elevated CO2 stimulates productivity such that it dwarfs the negative effect caused by elevated temperature. Energy reserves were not as strongly mitigated by elevated CO2, and the mortality of less competitive cohorts increased. Drought length had a surprisingly small effect on productivity measures, but longer droughts increased the risk of mortality; (4) Conclusions: Elevated CO2 compensated for the negative effect of longer droughts in terms of productivity measures, but not survival measures.

Related Partners

The Forest Service was established in 1905 and is an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The Forest Service manages public lands in national forests and grasslands, which encompass 193 million acres.

Suggested Citation

Gustafson, Eric; Miranda, Brian; Sturtevant, Brian. 2018. Can Future CO2 Concentrations Mitigate the Negative Effects of High Temperature and Longer Droughts on Forest Growth?. Forests. 9(11): 664-. 18 p.