Bioclimates are syntheses of climatic variables into biologically relevant categories that facilitate comparative studies of biotic responses to climate conditions. Isobioclimates, unique combinations of bioclimatic indices (continentality, ombrotype, and thermotype), were constructed for northern California coastal ranges based on the Rivas-Martinez worldwide bioclimatic classification system for the end of the 20th century climatology (1971–2000) and end of the 21st century climatology (2070–2099) using two models, Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (GFDL) model and the Parallel Climate Model (PCM), under the medium-high A2 emission scenario. The digitally mapped results were used to 1) assess the relative redistribution of isobioclimates and their magnitude of change, 2) quantify the loss of isobioclimates into the future, 3) identify and locate novel isobioclimates projected to appear, and 4) explore compositional change in vegetation types among analog isobioclimate patches. This study used downscaled climate variables to map the isobioclimates at a fine spatial resolution −270 m grid cells. Common to both models of future climate was a large change in thermotype. Changes in ombrotype differed among the two models. The end of 20th century climatology has 83 isobioclimates covering the 63,000 km2 study area. In both future projections 51 of those isobioclimates disappear over 40,000 km2. The ordination of vegetation-bioclimate relationships shows very strong correlation of Rivas-Martinez indices with vegetation distribution and composition. Comparisons of vegetation composition among analog patches suggest that vegetation change will be a local rearrangement of species already in place rather than one requiring long distance dispersal. The digitally mapped results facilitate comparison with other Mediterranean regions. Major remaining challenges include predicting vegetation composition of novel isobioclimates and developing metrics to compare differences in climate space.
Additional publication details
Present, future, and novel bioclimates of the San Francisco, California region