The Russian boreal forest – the largest continuous expanse of forest in the world—is experiencing warming temperatures compared to just several decades ago and is suspected to be impacted by the consequences of global climate change. Changes in disturbance regimes and climate affected by this warming will likely exert influence on the species distribution and land cover change in the boreal forest regions. Air temperature changes can alter soil characteristics, which in turn make localities more or less tolerable for certain boreal forest tree species. Changes in climate and fire intensity and severity additionally may affect species dynamics, and therefore land cover, in the boreal forest by altering successional dynamics.
Project Main Task
Main goal of the project is dynamic forest modeling simulations of Russian boreal forests under climate change conditions. Forest boreal gap model and GIS technology is a symbiosis allowed to create spatial modeling system and to assess dynamics of disturbances in the boreal forest ecosystem, the interactions among the development and dynamics of forest stands, and the impact of fires, anthropogenic logging, and climate change to the Russian boreal forests.
The model FAREAST is a culmination of several decades of data collection and synthesis, several years of testing and training of American Sciences of University of Virginia, and will serve as a valuable quantitative tool for a number of practical applications.
Important among the uses of the model output data under climate change conditions will be the capabilities:
1. To understand the likely changes in land cover that will occur in Russian boreal forest zones under climate change scenarios,
2. To forecast changes in forest structure and composition under altered disturbance regimes including fires, pest outbreak, and increased logging,
3. To create estimations of the impact of climate change on the economic value of the Russian boreal forests, and
4. To provide data on projected land cover change for atmospheric scientists and biologists who are interested in examining changes within the boreal forest ecosystem for additional study.