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Model Simulations of Western Conifer Forest Ecosystems

PI: Michael Evans
Institution: University of Arizona
Climate model forecasts for the 21st century suggest parts of the West may become warmer and wetter, while others may become warmer and drier, with increased probabilities of extreme events. We hypothesize that forecasted changes in temperature, precipitation and growing season length will change the spatial pattern of growth dependencies of conifer forests; the null hypothesis is that we observe no significant changes in environmental growth dependencies between late 20th and late 21st century simulations.

Climate model output will be coupled to a conifer tree growth model to produce high resolution maps of limiting growth dependencies over the late 20th and late 21st centuries. Climate model output will include, but will not be limited to, late 20th and 21st century simulations available on a 25Km resolution coterminous US grid from a fully coupled regional climate model cite[]{Diffenbaugh:etal2005}, itself nested within a global domain climate model cite[]{Atlas:etal2005} driven with standard IPCC scenario forcings. Modeled daily temperature and precipitation will be used to drive the Vaganov-Shashkin (VS) model of conifer tree growth cite[]{Vaganov05} to calculate ring width and growing season length estimates. Late 20th century climate model based tree-ring simulations will be validated using simulations based on high resolution gridded climate data and actual tree-ring width data cite[]{Evans:etal2006}. Control and forecast simulation uncertainties will be assessed using Monte Carlo techniques to produce ensembles of climate model input and VS model output; uncertainties due to each modeling component will be evaluated. Control and forecast results will then be quantitatively compared for biogeographic subregions to test the viability of the null hypothesis.

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