Climate change and forest health
Climate change and forest health: abiotic disturbances
Abiotic disturbances – disturbances caused by non-living factors – are a natural and integral part of forest ecosystems that have major impacts, positive and negative. They influence forest structure, composition and functioning and can be important for maintaining biological diversity and facilitating regeneration. When disturbances exceed their normal range of variation, however, the impacts on forests can be extreme affecting entire landscapes, causing large-scale tree mortality and complete destruction of undergrowth and soils. Global climate change is exacerbating many of these impacts by making forests more prone to damage by altering the frequency, intensity and timing of some events such as cyclones, storms, landslides, insect and disease outbreaks, and heat waves and droughts which increase the risk of large-scale fires.
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Emergent vulnerability to climate-driven disturbances
It is not easy to quantify global damages by both biotic and abiotic disturbances but it is widely acknowledged that forest disturbance regimes are expected to intensify as Earth’s climate changes.
Abiotic disturbances and their influence on forest health