Forests under climate change and air pollution: Gaps in understanding and future directions for research

Matyssek, R.; Wieser, G.; Calfapietra, C.; Vries, W. de; Mohren, G.M.J.


Forests in Europe face significant changes in climate, which in interaction with air quality changes, may significantly affect forest productivity, stand composition and carbon sequestration in both vegetation and soils. Identified knowledge gaps and research needs include: (i) interaction between changes in air quality (trace gas concentrations), climate and other site factors on forest ecosystem response, (ii) significance of biotic processes in system response, (iii) tools for mechanistic and diagnostic understanding and upscaling, and (iv) the need for unifying modelling and empirical research for synthesis. This position paper highlights the above focuses, including the global dimension of air pollution as part of climate change and the need for knowledge transfer to enable reliable risk assessment. A new type of research site in forest ecosystems (“supersites”) will be conducive to addressing these gaps by enabling integration of experimentation and modelling within the soil-plant-atmosphere interface, as well as further model development. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------