Observed and predicted responses of plant growth to climate across Canada

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Abstract

[1] Using satellite observations from 1981–2000, and data interpolated from surface weather stations, we examined the association between gross photosynthetic activity (Pg) and climate across the boreal forest and tundra of Canada. The response of annual and interannual Pg was tightly coupled to climate, and seasonal associations between Pg and climate varied with plant functional types. The most important variable for modeling summer growth of conifer forests was the previous spring minimum temperature, whereas tundra responded primarily to summer maximum temperature. Using general circulation model predictors to 2050, we project that tundra will continue to grow vigorously in the coming decades while conifer forests will not. Increased tundra productivity will likely be associated with changes in vegetation composition (e.g., woody proliferation). If these biotic responses are stationary and persist as predicted, terrestrial carbon budgets will need to be modified.

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