Are forests growing faster because of climate change?



  1. 0 Votes

    I don’t think that there have been any recorded changes in the rate of forest growth that can be directly linked to complex series of trends that we call climate change. To be fair, forests in different regions will likely respond differently to climate change and its multiple variables. Plants in general grow better in conditions with higher atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide. So, if carbon dioxide concentrations were the only variable changing then, yes, it would likely cause forests to grow better. However, the climate is a complex system and so this is not the only piece that is likely to change.


    As a general rule, plants grow better with higher temperatures, but only up to a certain point, and only if they have enough water to support the increased rates of transpiration (the loss of water from the leaves during photosynthesis). Specific species also are best adapted to certain climatic conditions, so as temperatures change, so will the current geographic range of certain species, and this shift is not necessarily to the benefit of forest communities. Climate change not only predicts changes in temperatures and carbon dioxide concentrations, but also in precipitation patterns. To the degree that certain regions experience more drought, particularly if combined with higher temperatures, forests will respond negatively. Even if forests don’t actually experience a decrease in growth rate, they will likely be less resilient and more susceptible to disease and weather events.


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