The impact of atmospheric deposition and climate on forest growth in European monitoring plots: An individual tree growth model

D. Laubhann, H. Sterba, G.J. Reinds, W. de Vries

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105 Citations (Scopus)


In the climate change discussion, the possibility of carbon sequestration of forests plays an important role. Therefore, research on the effects of environmental changes on net primary productivity is interesting. In this study we investigated the influence of changing temperature, precipitation and deposition of sulphur and nitrogen compounds on forest growth. The database consisted of 654 plots of the European intensive monitoring program (Level II plots) with 5-year growth data for the period 1994–1999. Among these 654 plots only 382 plots in 18 European countries met the requirements necessary to be used in our analysis. Our analysis was done for common beech (Fagus sylvatica), oak (Quercus petraea and Q. robur), Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris) and Norway spruce (Picea abies). We developed an individual tree growth model with measured basal area increment of each individual tree as responding growth factor and tree size (diameter at breast height), tree competition (basal area of larger trees and stand density index), site factors (soil C/N ratio, temperature), and environmental factors (temperature change compared to long-term average, nitrogen and sulphur deposition) as influencing parameters. Using a mixed model approach, all models for the tree species show a high goodness of fit with Pseudo-R2 between 0.33 and 0.44. Diameter at breast height and basal area of larger trees were highly influential variables in all models. Increasing temperature shows a positive effect on growth for all species except Norway spruce. Nitrogen deposition shows a positive impact on growth for all four species. This influence was significant with p <0.05 for all species except common beech. For beech the effect was nearly significant (p = 0.077). An increase of 1 kg N ha-1 yr-1 corresponds to an increase in basal area increment between 1.20% and 1.49% depending on species. Considering an average total carbon uptake for European forests near 1730 kg per hectare and year, this implies an estimated sequestration of approximately 21–26 kg carbon per kg nitrogen deposition
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1751-1761
JournalForest Ecology and Management
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2009


  • area increment model
  • nitrogen deposition
  • carbon sequestration
  • boreal forest
  • stocks
  • soils
  • ecosystems
  • temperate
  • austria
  • stands


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