A major component of climate change is an increase in temperature and precipitation variability. Over the last few decades, an increase in the frequency of extremely warm temperatures and drought severity has been observed across Europe. These warmer and drier conditions may reduce productivity and trigger compositional shifts in forest communities. However, we still lack a robust, biogeographical characterization of the negative impacts of climate extremes, such as droughts on forests. In this context, we investigated the impact of the 2017 summer drought on European forests. The normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) was used as a proxy of forest productivity and was related to the standardized precipitation evapotranspiration index, which accounts for the temperature effects of the climate water balance. The spatial pattern of NDVI reduction in 2017 was largely driven by the extremely warm summer for parts of the central and eastern Mediterranean Basin (Italian and Balkan Peninsulas). The vulnerability to the 2017 summer drought was heterogeneously distributed over Europe, and topographic factors buffered some of the negative impacts. Mediterranean forests dominated by oak species were the most negatively impacted, whereas Pinus pinaster was the most resilient species. The impact of drought on the NDVI decreased at high elevations and mainly on east and north-east facing slopes. We illustrate how an adequate characterization of the coupling between climate conditions and forest productivity (NDVI) allows the determination of the most vulnerable areas to drought. This approach could be widely used for other extreme climate events and when considering other spatially resolved proxies of forest growth and health.
|Titolo:||The impact of drought spells on forests depends on site conditions: The case of 2017 summer heat wave in southern Europe|
RITA, ANGELO (Corresponding)
|Data di pubblicazione:||2020|
|Appare nelle tipologie:||1.1 Articolo su Rivista|