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Global Climate Change DigestArchives of the
Global Climate Change Digest

A Guide to Information on Greenhouse Gases and Ozone Depletion
Published July 1988 through June 1999



Item #d97may48

"Climate Change and Forests in the Great Plains," D.S. Guertin, W.E. Easterling (Dept. Agric. Meteor., Univ. Nebraska, 236 Chase Hall, Lincoln NE 68583), J.R. Brandle, BioScience, 47(5), 287-295, May 1997.

In addition to having economic effects on the extensive agriculture of this region, climate change may also impact native plants and animals in these agroecosystems. Changes in agricultural strategies (e.g. increased crop irrigation) in response to climate change may amplify those impacts. Existing models of forest dynamics offer a valuable starting point even though woodlands are only a portion of Great Plains diversity. Deficiencies in large-scale physiological models or forest gap models have limitations as well. The authors propose a modeling framework that combines and extends features of existing gap models into a design that can address the spatial heterogeneity of this region.

Item #d97may49

"Time Lags and Novel Ecosystems in Response to Transient Climatic Change in Arctic Alaska," F.S. Chapin III (Dept. Integrative Biol., Univ. California, Berkeley CA 94720; e-mail:, A.M. Starfield, Clim. Change, 35(4), 449-461, Apr. 1997.

Estimates the future rate of advance of the Arctic treeline in response to transient changes in temperature, precipitation and fire. Finds a 150-250 year time lag in forestation of Alaskan tundra following climatic warming, and suggests that, with rapid warming under dry conditions, there would be development of boreal grassland steppe. The time lag and grassland development would delay the positive feedback of vegetation change to climate change.

Item #d97may50

Two related items in Nature, 385(6617), Feb. 13, 1997:

"An Oblique Slant on Deep-Sea Biodiversity," M.A. Rex (Dept. Biol., Univ. Massachusetts, 100 Morrissey Blvd., Boston MA 02125), 577-578. Just 30 years ago, the discovery of surprisingly high species diversity in the deep sea inspired a period of intense ecological research there. The following study shows that the deep seas are not immune from large-scale shifts in climate.

"Orbital Forcing of Deep-Sea Benthic Species Diversity," T.M. Cronin (Climate History Team, 955, U.S. Geol. Survey, Reston VA 20192), M.E. Raymo, 624 ff. This study shows that Pliocene (2.85-2.40 Myr) deep-sea North Atlantic ostracod (Crustacea) species diversity is related to solar insolations caused by 41,000-yr cycles of the Earth's obliquity (tilt). Temporal changes in diversity correlate with independent climate indicators (glacial and interglacial periods). Diversity oscillations reflect large-scale response of the benthic community to climatically driven changes in either thermohaline circulation, bottom temperature (or temperature-related factors) and food, and a coupling of benthic diversity to surface productivity.

Item #d97may51

"Sensitivity of Greenhouse Summer Dryness to Changes in Plant Rooting Characteristics," P.C.D. Milly (NOAA/GFDL, POB 308, Princeton NJ 08542; e-mail:, Geophys. Res. Lett., 24(3), 269-271, Feb. 1, 1997.

A possible consequence of increased greenhouse gases in middle latitudes is "summer dryness," a decrease of summer plant-available soil water. The model used in this study suggests that a 14% decrease of soil volume whose water is accessible to plant roots would generate the same summer dryness as would an equilibrium doubling of atmospheric CO2. Given their apparently critical role in global hydroclimatic change, such changes of rooting characteristics should be carefully evaluated.

Item #d97may52

Two items in Clim. Change, 35(1), Jan. 1997.

"Modelling Climate Change Impacts on Ecosystems Using Linked Models and a GIS [Geographic Information System]," A. Eatherall (Inst. Hydrol., Maclean Bldg., Crowmarsh Gifford, Wallingford, Oxfordshire OX10 8BB, UK), 17-34. Results indicate a decrease in grassland productivity under a changed climate with possible large consequences for water resource planning in the U.K. This study also highlights the need to use linked, process-based models, using spatial data wherever possible, for climate change impact studies on ecosystems. Failure to do so may result in important control processes being omitted from the modeling process.

"Climate Change and the Bathurst Caribou Herd in the Northwest Territories, Canada," J. Brotton (Dept. Geog., Univ. Waterloo, Waterloo ON N2L 3G1, Can.), G. Wall, 35-52. The locations frequented by the caribou herd were determined, and the 1951-1980 average monthly temperatures and total monthly precipitation amounts ascertained. Climate change scenarios indicate a possible increase in winter snowfall, and increased insect harassment of caribou in summer from increased temperatures. These trends suggest a reduced hunting potential of the herd.

Item #d97may53

"Temperate Forest Responses to Carbon Dioxide, Temperature and Nitrogen: A Model Analysis," J.H.M. Thornley (Inst. Terrestrial Ecol.-ITE, Bush Estate, Penicuik, Midlothian EH26 0QB, UK), M.G.R. Cannell, Plant, Cell & Environ., 19(12), 1331-1348, Dec. 1996.

Used the ITE Edinburgh Forest model, one of the most comprehensive models of its kind, which describes diurnal and seasonal changes of C, N, and H2O in a fully coupled forest-soil system. Simulated a managed conifer plantation in upland Britain to examine transient effects on forest growth of an IS92a scenario of increasing CO2 and temperature over two future rotations, and the equilibrium effects of all combinations of increased CO2, mean annual temperature and annual inputs of N. Details eight major conclusions, which may lead to decreases or increases of growth. Projected increases in CO2 and temperature (IS92a) are likely to increase net ecosystem productivity and carbon sequestration in temperate forests.

Item #d97may54

"Potential Climate Change Effects on Loblolly Pine Forest Productivity and Drainage Across the Southern United States," S.G. McNulty (USDA Forest Service, 1509 Varsity Dr., Raleigh NC 27606), J.M. Vose, W.T. Swank, Ambio, 25(7), 449-453, Nov. 1996.

Used a well validated, physiologically based, forest ecosystem model that combined soil and vegetation data with six climate change scenarios for the states of Texas, Mississippi, Florida and Virginia. Across the sites, increasing air temperature would have much greater impact on pine forest hydrology and productivity than would changes in precipitation. These changes could seriously impact the structure and function of these forests by decreasing net primary productivity and total leaf area.

Item #d97may55

Special Issue: THE APPLICATION OF PATCH MODELS OF VEGETATION DYNAMICS TO GLOBAL CHANGE ISSUES, T.M. Smith, Ed. (Dept. Environ. Sci., Univ. Virginia, Charlottesville VA 22903), Clim. Change, 34(2), Oct. 1996. Consists of 15 papers based on research in Europe and North America, including the following overview article.

"A Review of Forest Patch Models and Their Application to Global Change Research," H.H. Shugart (address above), T.M. Smith, 131-153.

Provides a description of the structure of patch (gap) models of vegetation dynamics; examines some of the problems with their use in examining global change issues; explains how recent model developments attempt to overcome these limitations; and suggests areas for future research.

Item #d97may56

Two items in World Resource Review, 8(3), Sep. 1996:

"Long-Term Forest Monitoring in Switzerland: Assessing Climate Change Impacts," N. Kräuchi (Swiss Fed. Inst. for Forest, Snow & Landscape Res. WSL, CH-8903, Birmensdorf, Switz.), 370-381. Discusses successional characteristics of, and potential risks to forest ecosystems as influenced by a changing environment. To assess risks, uses FORSUM, a forest succession model for Central Europe, combined with data from 15 monitoring plots.

"Effects of Climate Change on Mountain Ecosystems - Upward Shifting of Alpine Plants," H. Pauli (Dept. Vegetation Ecol., Univ. Vienna, Althanstr. 14, 1091 Vienna, Austria), M. Gottfried, G. Grabherr, 382-390. Presents empirical evidence of the upward movement of vascular plants in the European Alps. Comparison of data collected in 1992-1993 from 30 high summits with historical data shows an increase in species at 70% of the summits. Approximate rates of upward movement for common alpine plants were calculated to be between zero and four meters per decade. This result may already be a "measurable" result of global warming since the 19th century.

Item #d97may57

"The Suitability of Montane Ecotones as Indicators of Global Climatic Change," J.A. Kupfer (Dept. Geog., Univ. Memphis, Memphis TN 38152), D.M. Cairns, Prog. Phys. Geog., 20(3), 253-272, Sep. 1996.

The locations of ecotones, the transitions between adjacent ecosystems or biomes, may serve as indicators of climate change. This article addresses the use of two montane ecotones-the alpine tree-line ecotone, and the deciduous/Boreal forest ecotone. The authors outline the factors that create and maintain each ecotone's position, assess the projected response to global warming; and discuss the usefulness of both ecotones as indicators of climate change.

Item #d97may58

"Responses in the Growth of the Northern Forests to a CO2-Induced Climatic Change, as Evaluated by the Frankfurt Biosphere Model - (FBM)," C. Häger (Inst. Phys. & Theoret. Chem., J.W. Goethe Univ., Marie-Curie Str. 11, 60439 Frankfurt, Ger.), G. Würth et al., World Resource Review, 8(2), 178-197, June 1996.

This mechanistic, prognostic compartment model of the terrestrial biosphere simulates the carbon exchange fluxes between the vegetation and the atmosphere with a spatial resolution of 0.5° X 0.5° on a global scale. Discusses the use of this model and the assumptions made, including a fertilization effect from increased CO2. Found that the increase in maximum biomass in the future greenhouse climate is accompanied by an acceleration of stand regrowth, especially in the Boreal forest. If Northern forest managers can raise the rotation, and if the harvest is used as a substitute for fossil fuel, the carbon sink strength of the forest sector is increased.

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