Investigating Impacts of Forest Management on Microclimate in Northern Michigan Forests
Abella, Jeztrelle P. (Jez)
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Climate change is shifting the environment that boreal forests reside in, such as through increasing temperatures. These changes have negative impacts that are placing the future of individual tree species at risk, especially those already located at the edge of their ranges, which include the Northern Michigan key species Paper birch (Betula papyrifera). In order to help maintain forest resilience, forest management must take into account the compounding effects of climate change-induced global warming and management-induced local warming. This study analyzed how forest management-induced changes in canopy cover affected microclimate in three varying forest ages. We predicted microclimate measurements (air temperature, soil temperature and percent full sun) to be the highest in the youngest forest age due to its expected least amount of canopy cover compared to the middle aged and reference forests. We found a strong correlation between % of full sun and temperatures for soil and air. We were also able to quantify 25% to be the threshold for canopy removal before a substantial increase in microclimate is observed. In order to abide by the IPCC standards of keeping warming below 2°C, we recommend forest managers to maintain around 80% of canopy.
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