Have you been to the Boreal Forest?
A recent scientific article published explores how Québec’s Boreal Forest may very well be a climate change refuge. This study was done to analyze and predict the effects climate change will have on this vast forest, and the results were extremely surprising!
Research suggests a Spain-sized area of forest in the centre of the province will be one of the rare places where nature will ease the effects of global warming and preserve existing ecosystems.
With temperatures on the rise, it’s no large jump to assume that large regions of North America will eventually dry out. It’s a logical prediction to assume that the high temperatures also means an increase of growth in the boreal forest.
However, studies in Western Canada haven’t found a link between warm years and unusual growth. Because of that, research teams dove into the matter, examining tree growth trends from 1960-2004. Those same trends were used to make predictions over what would happen to the trees under the effect of climate change.
The result? A split in the response roughly coinciding with the 49th parallel, about 200 kilometres north of Quebec City.
South of that line, they found higher temperatures were likely to slow the growth of black spruce, the boreal forest’s dominant tree. More warmth increased the growing season, but didn’t make up for the reduced precipitation and increased evaporation. But to the north, it was the opposite. There, the forest gets so much rain and snow, the extra heat gives the trees more chance to use it.
It wasn’t temperature that was the limiting factor. It was water. Who knew?