Back to search

KLIMAFORSK-Stort program klima

NORTHERN FOREST: A multi-driver framework for near-term iterative forecasting of ecosystem states

Alternative title: NORTHERN FOREST: Et multi-driver rammeverk for iterativ nærtidsvarsling av økosystemtilstander

Awarded: NOK 11.2 mill.

The state of an ecosystem is determined by an interplay between biological, physical and human factors. Due to anthropogenic climate change, this interplay is currently changing in many systems. However, because these changes are rapid and the interplay is complex, it is difficult to predict how the state of ecosystems will change in the long term. This implies that systems for near-term forecasting of changes in ecosystem state are all the more valuable. Such systems facilitate planning and adaptation and can thus be of great help to managers and other stakeholders. The goal of the project NORTHERN FOREST is to develop a system for near-term forecasting of insect outbreaks and forest damage in northern-boreal mountain birch forest. Outbreaks by geometrid moths have been an increasing problem in this ecosystem during the last 20 years because climate warming has allowed southern moth species to expand their ranges northwards and eastwards. The goal of NORTHERN FOERST is to develop statistical models that can forecast the risk of outbreaks and forest damage 1-3 years into the future, depending on factors like climate, forest productivity and grazing pressure by ungulates. The models will be developed based on existing data from long-term monitoring of outbreaks and forest damage, in combination with new climate- and productivity maps that will be developed during the project. The project will focus mainly on the mountain birch forest in former Finnmark County and has been developed in collaboration with the County governor of Troms and Finnmark, the Director of Forestry in Finnmark and the Finnmark Estate Agency. An important goal of the project is to facilitate dialogue between researchers and managers concerning the structure an interpretation of forecasting models, and how near-term forecasts can lead to concrete management actions. As of October 2021, researchers in NORTHERN FOREST have developed downscaled climate data on temperature and precipitation with a spatial resolution of 100 m and 250 m, covering Troms og Finnmark as well as Nordland (only 250 m). Climate data with 10 m resolution are under development. All climate data from the project are openly available from the Norwegian Meteorological Institute. The development of a forest productivity map for Finnmark is also well under way, and a first version of the map has been presented to the stakeholder group of the project. For these spatial data products, we are also working on a solution for user-access based in the cloud based processing platform Google Earth Engine. Downscaled climate data and productivity maps are stand-alone products from NORTHERN FOREST, but also form an important foundation for the statistical models for near-term forecasting of moth outbreaks and forest mortality that will be developed in the project. As of October 2021, these models are still under development, but we are well under way to building a framework for how the models will be practically implemented (Software, programming and statistical method) and how their quality will be assessed. The developmental work for the models has also included a review of the climate variables that are thought to affect moth population dynamics, and should therefore be included as explanatory variables in the models. To acquire better data for model development, we have also conducted a field survey for mapping of forest health in Finnmark. This survey - which was stratified according to a satellite-derived index of outbreak-induced canopy loss - covered large parts of former Finnmark county and included measurements of roughly 13 000 birch stems. The survey has provided valuable data on the relationship between forest mortality and canopy loss, conditional on local site factors like climate and productivity.

This proposal targets ecological impacts of multiple climatically determined stressors on a unique high-latitude ecosystem, the northern-boreal mountain birch forest of northern Fennoscandia. As a first step in a Strategic Foresight protocol, we have collaborated with stakeholders to identify the key stressors of this ecosystem, namely outbreaks by geometrid moths, browsing by ungulates, and climate, the latter acting both directly and indirectly via its impact on the other stressors. Targeting knowledge gaps and needs identified as priorities by stakeholders, our multidisciplinary team takes an integrative approach to understanding the effects of these stressors on the target ecosystem. To address climate impacts, we will utilize new methodology to develop high-resolution spatial climate data for developing models of climatically determined growing conditions, applicable both to producing spatial maps of current forest productivity and to predict future productivity under climate warming. Based on satellite maps and aerial imagery of moth defoliation, we will conduct regional-scale field surveys of forest mortality and regeneration to reveal forest resilience to outbreaks, conditional on site-specific factors, including climate, growing conditions and ungulate browsing. By integrating these research products with existing time series, the project will culminate in the development of a Near-Term (1-3 year) Iterative Forecasting system for moth abundance, defoliation and forest mortality. The system will produce forecasts to aid management of the focal ecosystem, and provide a more general case for how stakeholder involvement and ecological forecasting can aid the stewardship of severely stressed and rapidly changing ecosystems. Annual workshops will secure stakeholders involvement in data analysis, synthesis, and the development of field protocols for stakeholders’ participation in data collection. Annual forecasts will be made publicly available on a web portal.

Publications from Cristin

No publications found

No publications found

No publications found

No publications found

Funding scheme:

KLIMAFORSK-Stort program klima