Forest fires

In temperate forests, one of the most important and much studied effects of climate change is expected to be a change in forest fire regimes, which eventually can lead to species migration. The increase in temperature and changes in the rainfall pattern as a result of CC are expected to provoke more prolonged droughts, which can led to an increase in forest fires. Also, the increase in the number of thunderstorms is expected to lead to more lighting strikes, which will cause more wild fires. These fires will influence the hydrology of a basin through the alteration of the age distribution of the trees in the forest (Valeo et al., 2003) and possibly through the replacement species. This could be a slow growing species by a fast growing species, which profits from the reccurring fires.

Changes in regional water availability may affect ecosystems. The study of White et al. (1999), for example, implies a loss in area of rainforest in the Amazon Basin in the 21st century, in favour of savanna. This is the result of the expected increase in temperatures and decreasing precipitation. The same effect is predicted for tropical grasslands, which will be turned into deserts as a result of decreases in precipitation.

The IPCC further identifies other possible effects of CC on terrestrial ecosystems, which are the following: the positive effect of increased CO2 concentrations on the growth and productivity of vegetation, changes in moisture content of soils, changes in nutrient cycling and changes in 'El NiƱo' events.

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