Schwaab J, Davin E L, Bebi P, Duguay-Tetzlaff A, Waser L T, Haeni M, Meier R (2020) Increasing the broad-leaved tree fraction in European forests mitigates hot temperature extremes. Scientific Reports, 10 (1): 14153. [10.1038/s41598-020-71055-1]


forest climate, temperature below canopy


Forests influence climate through a myriad of chemical, physical and biological processes and are an essential lever in the efforts to counter climate change. The majority of studies investigating potential climate benefits from forests have focused on forest area changes, while changes to forest management, in particular those affecting species composition, have received much less attention. Using a statistical model based on remote sensing observations over Europe, we show that broad-leaved tree species locally reduce land surface temperatures in summer compared to needle-leaved species. The summer mean cooling effect related to an increase in broad-leaved tree fraction of 80% is relatively modest (~?0.3–0.75 K), but is amplified during exceptionally warm periods. The reduction of daily maximum temperatures during the hottest days reaches up to 1.8 K in the Atlantic region and up to 1.5 K in Continental and Mediterranean regions. Hot temperature extremes adversely affect humans and ecosystems and are expected to become more frequent in a future climate. Thus, forest management strategies aiming to increase the fraction of broad-leaved species could help to reduce some of the adverse local impacts caused by hot temperature extremes. However, the overall benefits and trade-offs related to an increase in the broad-leaved tree fraction in European forests needs to be further investigated and assessed carefully when adapting forest management strategies.

LWF Classification

Network: LWF, Sites: Beatenberg;Chironico;Celerina;Isone;Jussy;Nationalpark;Neunkirch;Novaggio;Othmarsingen;Visp, Category: ISI,