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A climate of growth: Climatic drivers of forest phenology and productivity in the Algonquin-to-Adirondacks region

Authors: Mike Stefanuk*, Queen's University, Ryan Danby, Queen's University
Topics: Temporal GIS, Environmental Science, Global Change
Keywords: temperate forests, climate change, remote sensing, GIS, NDVI, Random Forest, Ontario, New York
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Temperate forests have responded to recent climate change worldwide, but pattern magnitude of responses have varied, necessitating additional studies at regional scales. We investigated trends in forest phenology and productivity, as well as climatic drivers of inter-annual variation in forest growth, across the Algonquin-to-Adirondacks (A2A) conservation corridor of Eastern North America from 1989-2014. We used remotely-sensed indices from AVHRR sensors as well as a set of gridded climate data spanning the same period. We compared trends among four ecoregions in A2A, and used Random Forest regression to characterize climate-growth relationships. Significant trends in forest phenology and productivity were apparent in less than 10 % of the region’s forests. Where change was detected, it was characterized primarily by an increase growing season length. These changes were largely associated with a later end to the growing season rather than an earlier start. A large portion of annual variation in phenology and productivity was explained by climate, with variation largely driven by temperature-related variables. Only minor relationships with precipitation-related variables were evident. The results suggest that anthropogenic climate change has not yet triggered widespread changes in forest phenology and productivity, but that future climate warming could produce more wide-spread changes.

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