Projected future vegetation changes for the northwest United States and southwest Canada at a fine spatial resolution using a dynamic global vegetation model.

PLoS ONE
By: , and 

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Abstract

Future climate change may significantly alter the distributions of many plant taxa. The effects of climate change may be particularly large in mountainous regions where climate can vary significantly with elevation. Understanding potential future vegetation changes in these regions requires methods that can resolve vegetation responses to climate change at fine spatial resolutions. We used LPJ, a dynamic global vegetation model, to assess potential future vegetation changes for a large topographically complex area of the northwest United States and southwest Canada (38.0–58.0°N latitude by 136.6–103.0°W longitude). LPJ is a process-based vegetation model that mechanistically simulates the effect of changing climate and atmospheric CO2 concentrations on vegetation. It was developed and has been mostly applied at spatial resolutions of 10-minutes or coarser. In this study, we used LPJ at a 30-second (~1-km) spatial resolution to simulate potential vegetation changes for 2070–2099. LPJ was run using downscaled future climate simulations from five coupled atmosphere-ocean general circulation models (CCSM3, CGCM3.1(T47), GISS-ER, MIROC3.2(medres), UKMO-HadCM3) produced using the A2 greenhouse gases emissions scenario. Under projected future climate and atmospheric CO2 concentrations, the simulated vegetation changes result in the contraction of alpine, shrub-steppe, and xeric shrub vegetation across the study area and the expansion of woodland and forest vegetation. Large areas of maritime cool forest and cold forest are simulated to persist under projected future conditions. The fine spatial-scale vegetation simulations resolve patterns of vegetation change that are not visible at coarser resolutions and these fine-scale patterns are particularly important for understanding potential future vegetation changes in topographically complex areas.

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Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Projected future vegetation changes for the northwest United States and southwest Canada at a fine spatial resolution using a dynamic global vegetation model.
Series title PLoS ONE
DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0138759
Volume 10
Issue 10
Year Published 2015
Language English
Publisher Public Library of Science
Publisher location San Francisco, CA
Contributing office(s) Geosciences and Environmental Change Science Center
Description e0138759, 21 p.
Country Canada, United States
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N