Forests synchronize their growth in contrasting Eurasian regions in response to climate warming
Forests play a key role in the carbon balance of terrestrial ecosystems. One of the main uncertainties in global change predictions lies in how the spatiotemporal dynamics of forest productivity will be affected by climate warming. Here we show an increasing influence of climate on the spatial variability of tree growth during the last 120 y, ultimately leading to unprecedented temporal coherence in ring-width records over wide geographical scales (spatial synchrony). Synchrony in growth patterns across cold-constrained (central Siberia) and drought-constrained (Spain) Eurasian conifer forests have peaked in the early 21st century at subcontinental scales (∼1,000 km). Such enhanced synchrony is similar to that observed in trees co-occurring within a stand. In boreal forests, the combined effects of recent warming and increasing intensity of climate extremes are enhancing synchrony through an earlier start of wood formation and a stronger impact of year-to-year fluctuations of growing-season temperatures on growth. In Mediterranean forests, the impact of warming on synchrony is related mainly to an advanced onset of growth and the strengthening of drought-induced growth limitations. Spatial patterns of enhanced synchrony represent early warning signals of climate change impacts on forest ecosystems at subcontinental scales.
Journal or Serie
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2016, vol. 113, núm. 3, p. 662-667