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The Role of Forests in Mitigating Climate Change – a Case Study for Europe

Author(s): GÁLOS, Borbála | HÄNSLER, Andreas | KINDERMANN, Georg | RECHID, Diana | SIECK, Kevin | JACOB, Daniela

Journal: Acta Silvatica & Lignaria Hungarica
ISSN 1786-691X

Volume: 8;
Start page: 87;
Date: 2012;
Original page

Keywords: afforestation | biogeophysical feedbacks | climatic extremes | climate change mitigation

A regional-scale case study has been carried out to assess the possible climatic benefits of forest cover increase in Europe. For the end of the 21st century (2071–2090) it has been investigated, whether the projected climate change could be reduced assuming potential afforestation of the continent. The magnitude of the biogeophysical effects of enhanced forest cover on temperature and precipitation means and extremes have been analyzed relative to the magnitude of the climate change signal applying the regional climate model REMO. The simulation results indicate that in the largest part of the temperate zone potential afforestation may reduce the projected climate change through cooler and moister conditions, thus could contribute to the mitigation of the projected climate change for the entire summer period. The largest relative effect of forest cover increase can be expected in northern Germany, Poland and Ukraine. Here, the projected precipitation decrease could be fully compensated, the temperature increase could be relieved by up to 0.5 °C, and the probability of extremely warm and dry days could be reduced. Results can help to identify the areas, where forest cover increase could be the most effective from climatic point of view. Thus they can build an important basis of the future adaptation strategies and forest policy.
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