Global Tree Death Patterns Reveal Emerging Climate Change Risks for Forests

Recent tree loss, largely driven by climate stress, in forests around the world could portend increased tree mortality under climate change, according to a U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) report recently released online in the journal Forest Ecology and Management.

The USGS-led review suggests that many of the world’s forests are sensitive to climate-related drought and heat stress, raising the concern that forests may become increasingly vulnerable to future mortality, even in environments that are not normally considered water-limited. The results suggest risks to ecosystem services that are valuable to forests and societies around the world.

“Trees can die much more quickly than they grow,” said Craig D. Allen, USGS scientist and lead author of the report. “The widespread examples of drought and heat-induced tree mortality that we document illustrate how climate can drive abrupt, broad-scale impacts to essential forest services ranging from timber and protection of watersheds and biodiversity to recreational, aesthetic and spiritual benefits.”

Although tree mortality episodes occur in the absence of climate change, the report’s results are consistent with projections of future increases in tree mortality due to climate-related stresses. These heat and drought stresses could fundamentally alter the composition, structure and biogeography of forests in many regions, as well as affect how forests sequester carbon.

“This work by USGS underscores multiple risks that climate change poses to our forests and our world,” said Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar.  “It also illuminates the importance of our efforts to develop practical, on-the-ground land management strategies that will help us adjust to the stresses that climate change is placing on our forests.”

The report details 88 cases of significant tree mortality around the world associated with heat and drought since 1970, documenting climate-induced tree losses from Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, North America and South America.

“From northern forests of spruce, pine or oak to tropical savannas and rainforests, many forest types appear vulnerable to such climate-driven mortality and to forest pests that are also highly sensitive to temperature,” Allen said.

The report also identifies key information gaps and scientific uncertainties that currently hinder our ability to identify climate-related trends in tree mortality and to predict future losses in response to climate change, including lack of species-specific knowledge about tree water and temperature stress limits and the absence of a globally coordinated observation system.

However, in conjunction with other recent observational and experimental studies indicating that higher temperatures can drive increases in tree mortality, this article highlights risks that tree mortality could become more frequent and extensive as global climate change progresses.

[Source: USGS news release]

GIS Forestry Tool Lowers Costs of Finnish Forest Management

Tapio Deploys ESRI’s Software and Tieto Solution for Forest Data Collection, Management, and Analysis

Forestry Development Centre Tapio of Finland is using ESRI’s ArcGIS software and a solution designed by Tieto, an ESRI business partner, to meet Forestry Centres’ goal to decrease forest inventory costs by 40 percent. The solution is designed to improve productivity, cost efficiency, and cooperation between organizations, including data procurement and two-way dataflow. It will also increase Forestry Centres’ customer use of Forestry Centre services and advice.

Working with Finland’s Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Tapio supports forest management planning for the country’s 13 regional Forestry Centres by providing them with information systems. To make operative planning more effective, Tapio deployed Tieto’s solution, which is built on ArcGIS 9.3, ESRI’s geographic information system (GIS) software. ArcGIS has been used to support forest management solutions for decades. The system enables Forestry Centres to maintain an up-to-date, high-quality forest resource database for the entire country.

“GIS makes geographic information easier to use and increases the value of the data produced by Forestry Centres and other organizations,” says Kirsi Valanne, geographic information specialist at Tapio. “Eventually, we will expand the system to support other operations performed by Forestry Centres.”

Finland is a significant contributor to the world’s commercial production of sawn goods and pulp production. With 66 percent of Finland’s land use dedicated to productive forests, Forestry Centres have a lot of data to manage. Tapio project manager Henry Schneider notes, “With this new system, Forestry Centres can increase the amount of annually collected forest resource data and, at the same time, reduce the costs of data collection per hectare.” The new GIS is designed to support a new concept for field data procurement based on laser scanning and aerial photographs. This dramatically reduces the need for fieldwork.

Each Forestry Centre provides information that plays a key role in promoting regional development projects, building cooperation between forest organizations, and counseling forest owners. Tapio’s GIS will enhance this ability via a centralized database that contains forest resource data and forest management planning data. This includes proposed cuttings and silvicultural work; key biotopes required by the Forest Act; cadastral data; aerial photographs; laser scanning data; and external geographic data such as topographic maps, groundwater areas, protected areas, and prehistoric monuments.

In the initial phase to be completed by 2010, Tapio anticipates that 400 users will interact with the data. Eventually it hopes to expand the user group to 850 people who will access GIS for forestry law supervision, forest extension service (through public funding), forest management planning, and forest improvement projects.

The client application is built on ArcGIS Desktop 9.3 tools. An Oracle database is connected by ArcGIS Server using SQL*Net (or Net8) protocol. GIS interfaces with Tapio’s PDA field data collection program, forest data calculation application, customer relationship management (CRM) system, financial management applications, and data transfer service. Users will be able to connect to map servers via the Internet.

Tieto has full responsibility for the delivery of the project. Its strong experience in implementing large geographic information solutions and its in-depth knowledge about the wood-processing value chain will aid the development and implementation of this project. ESRI’s distributor ESRI Finland Oy is providing the GIS software for the project via an enterprise license software purchasing agreement as well as maintenance, support services, and training.

[Source: ESRI news release]

China Expected to Complete World’s First Land Cover Map of Antarctica

…from China View

Chinese scientists from the country’s 26th Antarctic expedition are expected to complete the world’s first land cover map of the Antarctica at the end of this year.

“It will be the most accurate map of the continent, presenting various land features, they told Xinhua correspondent aboard Xuelong (Snow Dragon) icebreaker in a recent interview.

“The research team will conduct wide range of field spectral collection on the Antarctica to provide data for the map.

“The map, with the application of high resolution remote sensing technology, will for the first time in the history show the distribution of key features on the continent, including sea ice, snow, blue ice, rocks, soil marshes, lakes and ice crevasse.”

GIS for Climate Change Bibliography, Part 4: Sustainability

Building an Oasis in the Desert: GIS Helps Ensure that Masdar City Meets Its Carbon-Neutral, Zero-Waste Goals

Sumatra—Forest Cover and Change 1990–2000

Mapping Ecosystem Services in the Sierra Nevada, California

Global Gap Analysis—August 2003, First Iteration

Global Population Density Estimates for 2015

Combined Suitability of Land for Rainfed Crops and Pastures

3D Population Distribution in the Bay Area in 2000

Food Insecurity and Vulnerability in Sekhukhune, Republic of South Africa

Key Drivers of Food Insecurity and Vulnerability in the Greater Sekhukhune Municipality, Republic of South Africa

Back to the Future

Reducing the Impact of Transportation on the Human Footprint

Regional Conservation Priorities for Upper Guinean and Congo Basin Forests

Philippine Biodiversity Conservation Priorities

The Nature Audit—Cumulative Human Footprint

Atlas of the Biodiversity of California

Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection, and Restoration Act Priority Project Lists I–XIII

Wetland Mitigation: Restoring Montana’s Wetlands

GIS Mapping of the Yields of Ohio’s Aquifers

Rhode Island Land Suitability Analysis for Development Intensity and Conservation

Narragansett Bay Coastal Wetland Trends Analysis 1950s–1990s

Adapting to Climate Change: The Global Adaptation Atlas

FORMA = Forest Monitoring for Action: Tracking Deforestation, One Regression at a Time

CITYgreen Calculates Environmental Benefits of Trees and Green Space

Visualizing Priority Conservation Areas in Western North America

Changing Vegetation and Challenges to Borders of Tanjung Puting National Park in Borneo

Climate Change Impacts on Water Resources

Climate Change Impacts on Watersheds in Mesoamerica and the Caribbean

Westchester County’s Green Map Aids County Global Warming Task Force Plans

Delta Habitat Opportunities – Assessing Risks with Climate Change

Developing the Next Generation of Climate Action Plans

Influence of Climate Change on Outbreak of Leaf Spot Disease

Local Climate Change GIS—Data-Based Visioning Tools for Community Decision-Making

Transportation Modeling and Climate Change Analysis

Conserving Bolivia’s Critical Resources

Ecosystem Vulnerability to Climate Change in Panama

Modeling Landscape Connectivity in the Southern Appalachians under Climate Change

Philippine Tarsiers Conservation Program Streamlined with GIS

For Puget Sound, Washington, GIS and Modeling Are Protecting and Restoring Shorelines and Open Spaces

Kenya’s Kiunga Marine National Reserve Studies Sustainable Fisheries and Marine Conservation with GIS

Mapping Benthic Habitats: The Marine GIS Challenge

The Charlotte, North Carolina, Urban Area Now Has a “Green Theme”

Rangeland Health Data Collection and Analysis Improved with Mobile GIS

U.S. Department of Agriculture Produces Objective and Accurate Global Assessments with GIS

Spreading Data Improves Crop Yield

International Coffee Marketing and Certification Aided With GIS

Sri Lanka Uses GIS for Planning and Management of Irrigation Systems

Formulating a Sustainable Development Land Use Scenario Using GIS

Colorado’s North Front Range Metropolitan Planning Organization Makes Ride Sharing Easier with GIS

Supporting Island Land Conservation

Traditional Knowledge Meets New Tools

Bibliographies in this series:

Map of the Day: Sound and Safety Analysis at Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport

…from the ESRI Map Book, Volume 24


“Using ArcGIS 3D Analyst in conjunction with Google Earth, Federal Aviation Administration regulations regarding allowable building heights can be better displayed for modeling purposes. In addition, with the assistance of ATAC Corporation’s tools, aircraft noise can be modeled to show the extent of areas most prone to aircraft over flight for both existing and proposed development.

“Courtesy of City of Mesa, Arizona.”

Preserving Species Diversity: GIS helps New York Screen Projects for Potential Impacts

ny_biodiversity_1…from the Fall 2009 issue of ArcUser

“The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) has developed a custom GIS application that assists its staff in preserving biodiversity in the state by answering spatial questions related to threatened and endangered species.

“There is increasing concern over the loss of biodiversity. Species are declining or becoming extinct at a greater rate than at any other time in the history of life on earth. Today, many species are severely threatened by the reduction of available habitat caused by changing land use. This leads to the isolation of these species’ populations and higher mortality rates for them.

“This threat has become increasingly problematic in New York’s Lower Hudson Valley/Catskill Region. In this unique area of the state, several ecozones are clustered in a relatively small geographic area. The region’s diverse habitat types support a correspondingly high degree of wildlife diversity with 90 percent of the more than 400 birds, mammals, reptiles, and amphibians native to New York found in this 4,700-square-mile area. Fifteen of these species are either threatened or endangered and classed as Listed Species.”

Can Geographic Information Keep You Healthy? TEDMED 2009

BillBill Davenhall, ESRI’s Global Marketing manager for Health and Human Services Solutions, will be presenting “Can Geographic Information Keep You Healthy?” at TEDMED this week.  Bill’s talk is during Session 1 (5:00 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.) on Tuesday, 27 October 2009 at the Hotel Del Coronado in San Diego, California.  TEDMED 2009 is sold out, and I’m unable to find any information about streaming video from the conference.  I’ll post a link to the video once they add it to the TEDMED web site.