A global climate niche for giant trees

Marten Scheffer*, Chi Xu, Stijn Hantson, Milena Holmgren, Sietse O. Los, Egbert H. van Nes

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

Rainforests are among the most charismatic as well as the most endangered ecosystems of the world. However, although the effects of climate change on tropical forests resilience is a focus of intense research, the conditions for their equally impressive temperate counterparts remain poorly understood, and it remains unclear whether tropical and temperate rainforests have fundamental similarities or not. Here we use new global data from high precision laser altimetry equipment on satellites to reveal for the first time that across climate zones ‘giant forests’ are a distinct and universal phenomenon, reflected in a separate mode of canopy height (~40 m) worldwide. Occurrence of these giant forests (cutoff height > 25 m) is negatively correlated with variability in rainfall and temperature. We also demonstrate that their distribution is sharply limited to situations with a mean annual precipitation above a threshold of 1,500 mm that is surprisingly universal across tropical and temperate climates. The total area with such precipitation levels is projected to increase by ~4 million km2 globally. Our results thus imply that strategic management could in principle facilitate the expansion of giant forests, securing critically endangered biodiversity as well as carbon storage in selected regions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2875-2883
JournalGlobal Change Biology
Volume24
Issue number7
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2018

Fingerprint

Biodiversity
Climate change
Ecosystems
Rain
global climate
niche
Carbon
Satellites
rainforest
Lasers
altimetry
carbon sequestration
Temperature
tropical forest
laser
canopy
biodiversity
rainfall
climate change
ecosystem

Keywords

  • alternative ecosystem state
  • canopy height
  • LiDAR
  • precipitation temperate rainforest
  • remote sensing
  • resilience
  • threshold
  • tropical rainforest

Cite this

Scheffer, Marten ; Xu, Chi ; Hantson, Stijn ; Holmgren, Milena ; Los, Sietse O. ; van Nes, Egbert H. / A global climate niche for giant trees. In: Global Change Biology. 2018 ; Vol. 24, No. 7. pp. 2875-2883.
@article{e9018fa3882c414480cb04923bb751f0,
title = "A global climate niche for giant trees",
abstract = "Rainforests are among the most charismatic as well as the most endangered ecosystems of the world. However, although the effects of climate change on tropical forests resilience is a focus of intense research, the conditions for their equally impressive temperate counterparts remain poorly understood, and it remains unclear whether tropical and temperate rainforests have fundamental similarities or not. Here we use new global data from high precision laser altimetry equipment on satellites to reveal for the first time that across climate zones ‘giant forests’ are a distinct and universal phenomenon, reflected in a separate mode of canopy height (~40 m) worldwide. Occurrence of these giant forests (cutoff height > 25 m) is negatively correlated with variability in rainfall and temperature. We also demonstrate that their distribution is sharply limited to situations with a mean annual precipitation above a threshold of 1,500 mm that is surprisingly universal across tropical and temperate climates. The total area with such precipitation levels is projected to increase by ~4 million km2 globally. Our results thus imply that strategic management could in principle facilitate the expansion of giant forests, securing critically endangered biodiversity as well as carbon storage in selected regions.",
keywords = "alternative ecosystem state, canopy height, LiDAR, precipitation temperate rainforest, remote sensing, resilience, threshold, tropical rainforest",
author = "Marten Scheffer and Chi Xu and Stijn Hantson and Milena Holmgren and Los, {Sietse O.} and {van Nes}, {Egbert H.}",
year = "2018",
month = "7",
doi = "10.1111/gcb.14167",
language = "English",
volume = "24",
pages = "2875--2883",
journal = "Global Change Biology",
issn = "1354-1013",
publisher = "Wiley",
number = "7",

}

A global climate niche for giant trees. / Scheffer, Marten; Xu, Chi; Hantson, Stijn; Holmgren, Milena; Los, Sietse O.; van Nes, Egbert H.

In: Global Change Biology, Vol. 24, No. 7, 07.2018, p. 2875-2883.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

TY - JOUR

T1 - A global climate niche for giant trees

AU - Scheffer, Marten

AU - Xu, Chi

AU - Hantson, Stijn

AU - Holmgren, Milena

AU - Los, Sietse O.

AU - van Nes, Egbert H.

PY - 2018/7

Y1 - 2018/7

N2 - Rainforests are among the most charismatic as well as the most endangered ecosystems of the world. However, although the effects of climate change on tropical forests resilience is a focus of intense research, the conditions for their equally impressive temperate counterparts remain poorly understood, and it remains unclear whether tropical and temperate rainforests have fundamental similarities or not. Here we use new global data from high precision laser altimetry equipment on satellites to reveal for the first time that across climate zones ‘giant forests’ are a distinct and universal phenomenon, reflected in a separate mode of canopy height (~40 m) worldwide. Occurrence of these giant forests (cutoff height > 25 m) is negatively correlated with variability in rainfall and temperature. We also demonstrate that their distribution is sharply limited to situations with a mean annual precipitation above a threshold of 1,500 mm that is surprisingly universal across tropical and temperate climates. The total area with such precipitation levels is projected to increase by ~4 million km2 globally. Our results thus imply that strategic management could in principle facilitate the expansion of giant forests, securing critically endangered biodiversity as well as carbon storage in selected regions.

AB - Rainforests are among the most charismatic as well as the most endangered ecosystems of the world. However, although the effects of climate change on tropical forests resilience is a focus of intense research, the conditions for their equally impressive temperate counterparts remain poorly understood, and it remains unclear whether tropical and temperate rainforests have fundamental similarities or not. Here we use new global data from high precision laser altimetry equipment on satellites to reveal for the first time that across climate zones ‘giant forests’ are a distinct and universal phenomenon, reflected in a separate mode of canopy height (~40 m) worldwide. Occurrence of these giant forests (cutoff height > 25 m) is negatively correlated with variability in rainfall and temperature. We also demonstrate that their distribution is sharply limited to situations with a mean annual precipitation above a threshold of 1,500 mm that is surprisingly universal across tropical and temperate climates. The total area with such precipitation levels is projected to increase by ~4 million km2 globally. Our results thus imply that strategic management could in principle facilitate the expansion of giant forests, securing critically endangered biodiversity as well as carbon storage in selected regions.

KW - alternative ecosystem state

KW - canopy height

KW - LiDAR

KW - precipitation temperate rainforest

KW - remote sensing

KW - resilience

KW - threshold

KW - tropical rainforest

U2 - 10.1111/gcb.14167

DO - 10.1111/gcb.14167

M3 - Article

VL - 24

SP - 2875

EP - 2883

JO - Global Change Biology

JF - Global Change Biology

SN - 1354-1013

IS - 7

ER -