Modeling postglacial vegetation dynamics of temperate forests on the Olympic Peninsula (WA, USA) with special regard to snowpack
Fisher, David M.
Gavin, Daniel G.
Bartlein, Patrick J.
Keywords580 Plants (Botany)
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AbstractPast and future forest composition and distribution in temperate mountain ranges is strongly influenced by temperature and snowpack. We used LANDCLIM, a spatially explicit, dynamic vegetation model, to simulate forest dynamics for the last 16,000 years and compared the simulation results to pollen and macrofossil records at five sites on the Olympic Peninsula (Washington, USA). To address the hydrological effects of climate-driven variations in snowpack on simulated forest dynamics, we added a simple snow accumulation-and-melt module to the vegetation model and compared simulations with and without the module. LANDCLIM produced realistic present-day species composition with respect to elevation and precipitation gradients. Over the last 16,000 years, simulations driven by transient climate data from an atmosphere-ocean general circulation model (AOGCM) and by a chironomid-based temperature reconstruction captured Late-glacial to Late Holocene transitions in forest communities. Overall, the reconstruction-driven vegetation simulations matched observed vegetation changes better than the AOGCM-driven simulations. This study also indicates that forest composition is very sensitive to snowpack-mediated changes in soil moisture. Simulations without the snow module showed a strong effect of snowpack on key bioclimatic variables and species composition at higher elevations. A projected upward shift of the snow line and a decrease in snowpack might lead to drastic changes in mountain forests composition and even a shift to dry meadows due to insufficient moisture availability in shallow alpine soils.
Schwörer, Christoph; Fisher, David M.; Gavin, Daniel G.; Temperli, Christian; Bartlein, Patrick J. (2016). Modeling postglacial vegetation dynamics of temperate forests on the Olympic Peninsula (WA, USA) with special regard to snowpack (In Press). Climatic Change, pp. 1-16. Springer 10.1007/s10584-016-1696-z <http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10584-016-1696-z>