Articles | Volume 5, issue 6
04 Nov 2008
 | 04 Nov 2008

Changes of the potential distribution area of French Mediterranean forests under global warming

C. Gaucherel, J. Guiot, and L. Misson

Abstract. This work aims at understanding future spatial and temporal distributions of tree species in the Mediterranean region of France under various climates. We focused on two different species (Pinus Halepensis and Quercus Ilex) and compared their growth under the IPCC-B2 climate scenario in order to quantify significant changes between present and future. The influence of environmental factors such as atmospheric CO2 increase and topography on the tree growth has also been quantified.

We modeled species growth with the help of a process-based model (MAIDEN), previously calibrated over measured ecophysiological and dendrochronological series with a Bayesian scheme. The model was fed with the ARPEGE – MeteoFrance climate model, combined with an explicit increase in CO2 atmospheric concentration. The main output of the model gives the carbon allocation in boles and thus tree production.

Our results show that the MAIDEN model is correctly able to simulate pine and oak production in space and time, after detailed calibration and validation stages. Yet, these simulations, mainly based on climate, are indicative and not predictive. The comparison of simulated growth at end of 20th and 21st centuries, show a shift of the pine production optimum from about 650 to 950 m due to 2.5 K temperature increase, while no optimum has been found for oak. With the direct effect of CO2 increase taken into account, both species show a significant increase in productivity (+26 and +43% for pine and oak respectively) at the end of the 21st century.

While both species have different growth mechanisms, they have a good chance to extend their spatial distribution and their elevation in the Alps during the 21st century under the IPCC-B2 climate scenario. This extension is mainly due to the CO2 fertilization effect.

Final-revised paper