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New project on Climate Change Effects on Forest Ecosystems
Title of Project:
“Investigation on Climate Change Effects on Forest Ecosystems in Gilan and Mazandaran Provinces with Emphasize of Wood Dendrology Studies”
Mostafa Jafari: Scientist of RIFR and Lead Author of IPCC AR4, Research Institute of Forests and Rangeland, P.O.Box 13185-16, Tehran, I.R. Iran
Importance of Global Warming and its’ effects on natural resources, plants, animal and in general on human life are among subjects that received attention of scientists and politicians in recent years. United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change as a legal document has been signed in Rio and approved by governments. To control and reduced gas emission and keep them in certain level Kyoto Protocol was agreed. I.R. Iran was among those governments signed convention in Rio and ratified later. Acceptance and ratification of Kyoto Protocol by the Government of I.R. of Iran announced officially to the secretariat. Hence, from two points of view, technical and political, this issue could be considered.
Carbon dioxide and other produced gases have involved in warming up the Earth. Scientists found this warming up resulted from increase evaporation and density of water steam in atmosphere. As a result, precipitation pattern including rain or snow will change. Other fact and projection shows, warm and dry regions, will become warmer and drier. Climate change is a phenomenon that simultaneously effects with change in temperature precipitation and carbon dioxide, so, changes in all three factors should be considered in the same time.
Climate change issue and study of global warming attract scientists significantly. Three reports published by Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change show lack of adequate research result on climate change for the
Region and it means there are not significant published research from the Near East and Central Asia, which could be used for compellation of the reports.
I.R. of Iran is located in the North Temperate Zone from 25 to 40 degrees latitude and 44 to 63 degrees longitude, with a total area of approximately 1,650,000 square kilometers. A 50% of total lands area is covered with high mountain ranges. Elevations range from 26 meters below sea level on the shores of the Caspian Sea to 5860 meters above sea level at the pick of the Mt. Damavand.
Drought or water deficiency is one of the most critical climatic factors in Iran. About 50% of Iran can be classified as arid or semi-arid zones. Climate parameters, particularly precipitation varies significantly in different parts of the country. There is not a good annual rainfall distribution in most regions of Iran, which limits the plant development and growth. Not only high temperature in southern, central and lowlands of Iran is a limiting factor, but also low temperature in northern, western and highlands is another limiting factor too.
Forest ecological zones in Iran could be categorized as follow:
a) North, Caspian forest,
b) West, Zagros forest,
c) North West, Arasbaran forest,
d) South, Subtropical forest in Persian Gulf areas, and
e) Central, Scattering forests.
The Caspian forest possesses a closed canopy of deciduous forest, unlike the arid to semi-arid landscape throughout most of Iran. These forests belong to the broadleaf deciduous biome, which is widely distributed from North America to Europe and Asia. There are close similarities in the physiognomic and taxonomic aspects between Caspian forests and European and American deciduous forests. The Caspian region receives the larger part of the country’s precipitation while the central desert (Dasht-e-Lut) is faced with permanent drought.
Some of the main species of Caspian forest could be listed as Fagus orientalis, Carpinus betulus, Acer velutinum, Quercus castaneifolia, Fraxinus excelsior.
According to the studies taken by Briffa et al, (2001) on annual rings, in last 600 years, 20th century was the warmest period, with an exception of Siberia that 15th century was warmer than 20th.
Various subjects of dendrology could be study in relation to the climate change. In this research with collection of wood specimens from old tees and also ancient wooden material that have been used for different purposes and investigation on their annual rings is trying to answer to the two questions:
1- With considering tree annual rings as outcome of effect of climate factors, past climate condition could be estimated.
2- With using meteorological data for the period that data are available and investigation on correlation of annual ring width and climatic data, climate condition of the years which data are not available could be interpreted and explained.
Methodology of the project could summarize as follow:
1- Project areas are in Hyrcanian forest zone in North of Iran, in southern part of Caspian Sea, on northern slop of Albourz mountain range. Hyrcanian forest is a narrow line of temperate forest with rainfall from more than 2000 mm per year in west down to about 600 mm per year in east.
First phase of the project is for a period of three years.
2- First, working site and also tree species need to be selected. Nature of tree rings and distance to meteorological stations and availability of data are important factors for these selections. The project concentrates on dendroclimatology, to study effect of climate change on forest ecosystems.
Candidate tree species mainly could be among Beech (Fagus orientalis), Hornbeam (Carpinus betulus), Maple (Acer velutinum), Oak (Quercus castaneifolia), Alder (Alnus subcordata) or in second priority among Linden (Tilia), Walnut (Juglans), Chestnut (Castanea), Poplar (Populus), or Ash (Fraxinus excelsior).
3- Then, wood specimens by coring or discs (if harvesting is in processes) will be taken.
4- Measurements of tree rings width (crossdating by skeleton plotting)
5- Tree ring proxy
6- Dendrology analysis for chronology and climate elements correlations.
According to the results which would be provided by this research project, wood and agricultural production under different climate conditions could be estimated. Also, periodical drought and warmness may be forecasted. With this knowledge, estimations and forecasts better management and programming for sustainable management would be expected.
Keywords: climate change, global warming, dendrology, annual rings, ecosystems.
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