CLIMATE CHANGE SCENARIOS FOR AN ASSESSMENT OF VULNERABILITY OF FORESTS IN UKRAINE IN THE 21st CENTURY
Svitlana KRAKOVSKA, I. BUKSHA, A. SHVIDENKO
ABSTRACT. – Climate change scenarios for an assessment of vulnerability of forests in Ukraine in the 21st century. Forests are among the most valuable resources of any country not only as wood, but as a key component of bio-ecological system. Excluding anthropogenic factors, forests are mostly vulnerable by wildfire, droughts, pest invasions, hazardous and extreme weather events, etc. In fact, all these non-anthropogenic impacts could be significantly intensified by projected climate change in the 21st century. That is why future conditions for sustainable forest growth should be evaluated accounting for projected climate change preferably under different scenarios. It is well known that global climate change reveals different regional aspects. Therefore, special scenarios have been elaborated processing data of regional climate models (RCMs) from the FP-6 project ENSEMBLES with spatial resolution of 25 km. Verified over the territory of Ukraine ensembles of 10 RCMs for air temperature and 4 RCMs for precipitation calculated for IPCC scenario A1B, which is characterized by balanced consumption of fossil and renewable energy sources and considered by climate change science as one of most likely future development of the world, were applied. Taking into account that the expected dryness of regional climate could generate major challenges for vulnerability of Ukrainian forests, a modification of A1B scenario that is characterized by increasing temperature and decreasing precipitation (A1B+T-P) was proposed. In overall, the impacts of climate change on Ukrainian forests are diverse dependently upon geographical location, geomorphology and large land forms (mountains, plains), forest types and regimes of forest management. The biggest vulnerability was recognized in forests growing in steppe and southern forest steppe, where there is a high probability of impoverishment, degradation and death of forests over large areas. At the same time, there is also a threat of critical increase of vulnerability in other regions, particularly under more tough scenarios of climate change. The study was supported via the EU-funded ClimaEast project CEEF2015-036-UA “Building capacity for the assessment of vulnerability of Ukraine’s flatland forests to climate change”.
Keywords: climate change scenario, forest vulnerability, regional climate model, climate index,