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Conservation Science for a Healthy Planet

Managing forests for cooler microclimates

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January 11, 2018 Stockholm University Read full ScienceDaily article here

When studying the effect of climate change on biodiversity, it is important to consider the climate near the ground (microclimate) which a plant or an animal actually experiences. Deep shady depressions, dense old forests or places close to water for example are always considerably cooler than their surroundings.

“Knowing where cold climate refugia are in the landscape means we can protect these cold spots and help cold-adapted species to survive a warmer climate. Knowing how colder microclimates are generated means we could even create colder spots by wisely managing our forests,” says Caroline Greiser, PhD student at Department of Ecology, Environment and Plant Sciences.

The scientists found out that summer maximum temperatures at the forest floor can differ more than 10°C over only 100 meters.

“We also found out that the forest plays a dominant role in controlling warm near-ground temperatures in the summer, more than local topography. In other words, the temperature differences between open and dense forest stands are larger than the differences between the sunny and the shady side of a hill” says Caroline Greiser….

…Microclimate is the climate near the ground which can be colder or warmer than in the free atmosphere, depending on local topography (e.g. north vs. south side of a hill, higher vs. lower elevation) and vegetation (e.g. young sparse vs. old dense forest).

Caroline Greiser, Eric Meineri, Miska Luoto, Johan Ehrlén, Kristoffer Hylander. Monthly microclimate models in a managed boreal forest landscape. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology, 2018; 250-251: 147 DOI: 10.1016/j.agrformet.2017.12.252

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