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  1. Abstract

    Alterations in global climate via extreme precipitation will have broadscale implications on ecosystem functioning. The increased frequency of drought, coupled with heavy, episodic rainfall are likely to generate impacts on biotic and abiotic processes across aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems. Despite the demonstrated shifts in global precipitation, less is known how extreme precipitation interacts with biophysical factors to control future demographic processes, especially those sensitive to climate extremes such as organismal recruitment and survival. We utilized a field‐based precipitation manipulation experiment in 0.1 ha forest canopy openings to test future climate scenarios characterized by extreme precipitation on temperate tree seedling survival. The effects of planting seedbeds (undisturbed leaf litter/organic material vs. scarified, exposed mineral soils), seedling ontogeny, species, and functional traits were examined against four statistically defined precipitation scenarios. Results indicated that seedlings grown within precipitation treatments characterized by heavy, episodic rainfall preceded by prolonged drying responded similarly to drought treatments lacking episodic inputs. Moreover, among all treatment conditions tested, scarified seedbeds most strongly affected seedling survivorship (odds ratio 6.9). Compared with any precipitation treatment, the effect size (predicted probabilities) of the seedbed was more than twice as important in controlling seedling survivorship. However, the interaction between precipitation and seedbed resulted in a 27.9% improvement in survivorship for moisture‐sensitive species. Seedling sensitivity to moisture was variable among species, and most closely linked with functional traits such as seed mass. For instance, under dry moisture regimes, survivorship increased linearly with seed mass (log transformed; adjustedR2 = 0.72,p < 0.001), yet no relationship was apparent under wet moisture regimes. Although precipitation influenced survival, extreme rainfall events were not enough to offset moisture deficits nor provide a rescue effect under drought conditions. The relationships reported here highlight the importance of plant seedbeds and species (e.g., functional traits) as edaphic and biotic controls that modify the influence of extreme future precipitation on seedling survival in temperate forests. Finally, we demonstrated the biophysical factors that were most influential to early forest development and that may override the negative effects of increasingly variable precipitation. This work contributes to refinements of species distribution models and can inform reforestation strategies intended to maintain biodiversity and ecosystem function under increasing climate extremes.

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  2. Abstract

    Cold‐air pooling is a global phenomenon that frequently sustains low temperatures in sheltered, low‐lying depressions and valleys and drives other key environmental conditions, such as soil temperature, soil moisture, vapor pressure deficit, frost frequency, and winter dynamics. Local climate patterns in areas prone to cold‐air pooling are partly decoupled from regional climates and thus may be buffered from macroscale climate change. There is compelling evidence from studies across the globe that cold‐air pooling impacts plant communities and species distributions, making these decoupled microclimate areas potentially important microrefugia for species under climate warming. Despite interest in the potential for cold‐air pools to enable species persistence under warming, studies investigating the effects of cold‐air pooling on ecosystem processes are scarce. Because local temperatures and vegetation composition are critical drivers of ecosystem processes like carbon cycling and storage, cold‐air pooling may also act to preserve ecosystem functions. We review research exploring the ecological impacts of cold‐air pooling with a focus on vegetation, and then present a new conceptual framework in which cold‐air pooling creates feedbacks between species and ecosystem properties that generate unique hotspots for carbon accrual in some systems relative to areas more vulnerable to regional climate change impacts. Finally, we describe key steps to motivate future research investigating the potential for cold‐air pools to serve as microrefugia for ecosystem functions under climate change.

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  3. Abstract

    Species distribution models predict shifts in forest habitat in response to warming temperatures associated with climate change, yet tree migration rates lag climate change, leading to misalignment of current species assemblages with future climate conditions. Forest adaptation strategies have been proposed to deliberately adjust species composition by planting climate‐suitable species. Practical evaluations of adaptation plantings are limited, especially in the context of ecological memory or extreme climate events.

    In this study, we examined the 3‐year survival and growth response of future climate‐adapted seedling transplants within operational‐scale silvicultural trials across temperate forests in the northeastern US. Nine species were selected for evaluation based on projected future importance under climate change and potential functional redundancy with species currently found in these ecosystems. We investigated how adaptation planting type (‘population enrichment’ vs. ‘assisted range expansion’) and local site conditions reinforce interference interactions with existing vegetation at filtering adaptation strategies focused on transitioning forest composition.

    Our results show the performance of seedling transplants is based on species (e.g. functional attributes and size), the strength of local competition (e.g. ecological memory) and adaptation planting type, a proxy for source distance. These findings were consistent across regional forests but modified by site‐specific conditions such as browse pressure and extreme climate events, namely drought and spring frost events.

    Synthesis and applications. Our results highlight that managing forests for shifts in future composition represents a promising adaptation strategy for incorporating new species and functional traits into contemporary forests. Yet, important barriers remain for the establishment of future climate‐adapted forests that will most likely require management intervention. Nonetheless, the broader applicability of our findings demonstrates the potential for adaptation plantings to serve as strategic source nodes for the establishment of future climate‐adapted species across functionally connected landscapes.

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  4. Abstract

    Land‐use/cover change (LUCC) is an important driver of environmental change, occurring at the same time as, and often interacting with, global climate change. Reforestation and deforestation have been critical aspects of LUCC over the past two centuries and are widely studied for their potential to perturb the global carbon cycle. More recently, there has been keen interest in understanding the extent to which reforestation affects terrestrial energy cycling and thus surface temperature directly by altering surface physical properties (e.g., albedo and emissivity) and land–atmosphere energy exchange. The impacts of reforestation on land surface temperature and their mechanisms are relatively well understood in tropical and boreal climates, but the effects of reforestation on warming and/or cooling in temperate zones are less certain. This study is designed to elucidate the biophysical mechanisms that link land cover and surface temperature in temperate ecosystems. To achieve this goal, we used data from six paired eddy‐covariance towers over co‐located forests and grasslands in the temperate eastern United States, where radiation components, latent and sensible heat fluxes, and meteorological conditions were measured. The results show that, at the annual time scale, the surface of the forests is 1–2°C cooler than grasslands, indicating a substantial cooling effect of reforestation. The enhanced latent and sensible heat fluxes of forests have an average cooling effect of −2.5°C, which offsets the net warming effect (+1.5°C) of albedo warming (+2.3°C) and emissivity cooling effect (−0.8°C) associated with surface properties. Additional daytime cooling over forests is driven by local feedbacks to incoming radiation. We further show that the forest cooling effect is most pronounced when land surface temperature is higher, often exceeding −5°C. Our results contribute important observational evidence that reforestation in the temperate zone offers opportunities for local climate mitigation and adaptation.

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  5. Abstract

    Northern temperate ecosystems are experiencing warmer and more variable winters, trends that are expected to continue into the foreseeable future. Despite this, most studies have focused on climate change impacts during the growing season, particularly when comparing responses across different vegetation cover types. Here we examined how a perennial grassland and adjacent mixed forest ecosystem in New Hampshire, United States, responded to a period of highly variable winters from 2014 through 2017 that included the warmest winter on record to date. In the grassland, record‐breaking temperatures in the winter of 2015/2016 led to a February onset of plant growth and the ecosystem became a sustained carbon sink well before winter ended, taking up roughly 90 g/m2more carbon during the winter to spring transition than in other recorded years. The forest was an unusually large carbon source during the same period. While forest photosynthesis was restricted by leaf‐out phenology, warm winter temperatures caused large pulses of ecosystem respiration that released nearly 230 g C/m2from February through April, more than double the carbon losses during that period in cooler years. These findings suggest that, as winters continue to warm, increases in ecosystem respiration outside the growing season could outpace increases in carbon uptake during a longer growing season, particularly in forests that depend on leaf‐out timing to initiate carbon uptake. In ecosystems with a perennial leaf habit, warming winter temperatures are more likely to increase ecosystem carbon uptake through extension of the active growing season. Our results highlight the importance of understanding relationships among antecedent winter conditions and carbon exchange across land‐cover types to understand how landscape carbon exchange will change under projected climate warming.

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  6. Abstract Most semantic segmentation approaches of big data hyperspectral images use and require preprocessing steps in the form of patching to accurately classify diversified land cover in remotely sensed images. These approaches use patching to incorporate the rich spatial neighborhood information in images and exploit the simplicity and segmentability of the most common datasets. In contrast, most landmasses in the world consist of overlapping and diffused classes, making neighborhood information weaker than what is seen in common datasets. To combat this common issue and generalize the segmentation models to more complex and diverse hyperspectral datasets, in this work, we propose a novel flagship model: Clustering Ensemble U-Net. Our model uses the ensemble method to combine spectral information extracted from convolutional neural network training on a cluster of landscape pixels. Our model outperforms existing state-of-the-art hyperspectral semantic segmentation methods and gets competitive performance with and without patching when compared to baseline models. We highlight our model’s high performance across six popular hyperspectral datasets including Kennedy Space Center, Houston, and Indian Pines, then compare them to current top-performing models. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2024
  7. Forest disturbances, such as an eastern spruce budworm ( Choristoneura fumiferana ) outbreak, impact the strength and persistence of forest carbon sinks. Salvage harvests are a typical management response to widespread tree mortality, but the decision to salvage mortality has large implications for the fate of carbon stocks (including forest carbon and harvested wood products) in the near and long terms. In this study, we created decision-support models for salvage harvesting based on carbon after an eastern spruce budworm outbreak. We used lasso regression to determine which stand characteristics (e.g., basal area) are the best predictors of carbon 40 years after an outbreak in both salvage and no salvage scenarios. We modeled carbon at year 40 for different treatment scenarios and discount rates. Treatment scenarios represent residual stand conditions that may be present when an outbreak occurs. Economic discount rates were applied to 40-year carbon values to account for near and long-term carbon storage aspects. We found that the volume and size of eastern spruce budworm host species are significant predictors of salvage preference based on carbon. We found overall that salvaging less volume is recommended to avoid major swings in carbon budgets and that discounting carbon values to apply weight to near or long-term sequestration greatly affects whether salvaging is preferred. Lasso models are constructed for the northeastern US, however, similar concepts may be applied beyond our study area and potentially for other insect outbreaks similar to spruce budworm, such as mountain pine beetle ( Dendroctonus ponderosae ) or hemlock woolly adelgid ( Adelges tsugae ). From a policy standpoint widespread salvaging could create a large carbon emissions deficit with the risk of not being fully replenished within a desired timeframe. Since salvaging is often financially driven, especially for private landowners, carbon market payments or incentives for not salvaging is a consideration for future policy. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available May 4, 2024
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