Frost pocket effect results in severe canopy damage in a Mediterranean-type forest in southwestern Australia
Matusick, G., Ruthrof, K., Brouwers, N. and Hardy, G. (2014) Frost pocket effect results in severe canopy damage in a Mediterranean-type forest in southwestern Australia. In: Sustaining Forests, Sustaining People: The Role of Research XXIV IUFRO World Congress, 5 - 11 October, Salt Lake City, UT, USA.
Alterations to the frequency and intensity of extreme temperature events, predicted with climate change, pose a threat to the health forest trees in many areas of the world. Although global climate models predict Mediterranean climate regions are expected to get warmer with climate change, recent evidence suggests southwestern Australia may experience more frequent extreme cold events due to regional climate drivers. To determine the impact of extreme cold temperatures on forest vegetation in southwestern Australia, a study was initiated following the onset of frost damage in 2012. From an aerial survey, frost affected sites were found more frequently in valleys and lower to mid-slope positions compared to unaffected sites. Results from transect sampling along elevational gradients confirmed increasing tree crown damage with decreasing elevation and air temperature. Results from regression analysis suggest air temperatures reached a minimum of –2.7 °C in the zone of affected forest when the damage occurred. Dominant canopy species Eucalyptus marginata and Corymbia calophylla were both severely affected, though differences in symptomology were observed. This research confirms forest trees in Mediterranean climate regions are susceptible to severe damage from extreme cold temperatures, which could significantly impact forest health if climate change increases the frequency of cold temperature events.
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