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Thom, D; Sommerfeld, A; Sebald, J; Hagge, J; Muller, J; Seidl, R.
(2020): Effects of disturbance patterns and deadwood on the microclimate in European beech forests
AGR FOREST METEOROL. 2020; 291, 108066 FullText FullText_BOKU

More frequent and severe disturbances increasingly open the forest canopy and initiate tree regeneration. Simultaneously, increasing weather extremes, such as drought and heat, are threatening species adapted to cool and moist climate. The magnitude of the microclimatic buffering capacity of forest canopies to mitigate hot and dry weather conditions and its disturbance-induced reduction remains poorly quantified. Also, the influence of disturbance legacies (e.g., deadwood) on forest microclimate is unresolved. In a unique manipulation experiment we investigated (i) the microclimatic buffering capacity of forest canopies in years with different climatic conditions; (ii) the impacts of spatial disturbance patterns on surface light and microclimate; and (iii) the effect of deadwood presence and type on microclimate. Treatments included two disturbance patterns (i.e., aggregated and distributed), four deadwood types (i.e., standing, downed, standing and downed, removed), and one untreated control (i.e., nine treatments in total), replicated at five sites dominated by European beech (Fagus sylvatica L.) in southeastern Germany. We measured forest floor light conditions and derived diurnal extremes and variation in temperature (T) and vapor pressure deficit (VPD) during four consecutive summer seasons (2016 - 2019). The buffering capacity of intact forest canopies was higher in warm and dry years. Surface light was significantly higher in spatially aggregated disturbance gaps compared to distributed disturbances of similar severity. An increase in surface light by 10 % relative to closed canopies elevated T-max and VPDmax by 0.42 degrees C and 0.04 kPa, respectively. Deadwood presence and type did not affect the forest microclimate significantly. Microclimatic buffering under forest canopies can dampen the effects of climate change. However, increasing canopy disturbances result in more light penetrating the canopy, reducing the microclimatic buffering capacity of forests. We conclude that forest management should foster microclimatic buffering in forests as one element of a multi-pronged strategy to counter climate change.
Authors BOKU Wien:
Sebald Julius
Seidl Rupert
Sommerfeld Andreas
Thom Dominik

Find related publications in this database (Keywords)
Adaptive forest management
Disturbance patterns
Evaporative cooling
Latent heat

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