Russian scientists have determined exactly how climate affects the development of forests

Scientists from the Siberian Federal University (SFU) have tested a universal tree growth model that will help effectively “manage” forests. Experimental verification, according to the authors, showed its high accuracy in predicting changes in the forests of the Northern Hemisphere. The data was published in the highly rated journal Frontiers in Plant Science.

“Management” of forests is a set of measures that allows efficient and environmentally friendly regulation of industrial deforestation and reforestation. The key element of effective forest management, as SFU specialists explained, is a simulation model of tree growth, which allows predicting their response to external influences.

The Vaganov-Shashkin model (VS-model), which is being developed by SibFU scientists, connects the growth of woody plants with three climatic factors: air temperature, humidification and illumination.

This model, according to the researchers, is today considered the most promising in the scientific community, as it allows you to predict with high accuracy the “response” of trees to past, current and predicted climate changes on the planet.

In the new study, the VS-model was tested on unique observations of the growth of black spruce (Picea mariana) provided by Canadian scientists. The observation archive, which has been formed for 15 years, is one of the best databases in the world for seasonal tree growth.

“Calculations carried out on the new material have shown that we can predict many physiological processes of tree growth, taking into account climatic dynamics, even in cases where plants are not very sensitive to climatic factors – for example, some coniferous species on the American continent. even for specific forest areas, our forecasts can be used for practical forest management “, – said Vladimir Shishov, professor of the Department of Mathematical Methods and Information Technologies of the Siberian Federal University.

The test results showed that the Russian model perfectly describes the very specific relationship between the growth of black spruce and the climate of its range – in the north of the province of Quebec. According to SibFU scientists, this confirms the possibility of applying the model to almost any forest in the Northern Hemisphere.

The peculiarity of the model that distinguishes it from competitors is its simplicity and conciseness, the scientists emphasized. In their opinion, in most cases, over long time intervals, it is the climate that determines how trees grow and develop in various ecosystems, which means that the influence of other factors can be neglected.

In the course of the study, the scientists used a VS-oscilloscope, which is an online version of the VS-model, as well as a high-performance computing cluster of SFU. The project became possible, as the scientists noted, thanks to close long-term cooperation with specialists from the Canadian University of Quebec and Chikutimi.

The next stage of the scientists’ work is the development of neural network analogs of this model, which will improve the calculations for modeling on a global scale.

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