Climate Change and Future Position of Arctic Tree Line

  • Peter A. Scott
  • Claude Lavoie
  • Glen M. MacDonald
  • Bjartmar Sveinbjörnsson
  • Ross W. Wein
Part of the Ecological Studies book series (ECOLSTUD, volume 124)


Studies of northern circumpolar tree line have related tree distribution to numerous environmental controls, such as permafrost, moisture, heat, radiation, and frontal circulation patterns (Barry, 1967; Bryson, 1966; Hare and Ritchie, 1972; Hustich, 1966; Larsen, 1989). Recent modeling experiments indicate that the circumpolar tree line could be shifted north tens to hundreds of kilometers if anticipated magnitudes of global warming due to increases in atmospheric greenhouse gasses are realized (e.g., Emmanuel et al., 1985; Rizzo and Wiken, 1992). Detecting and migitating the negative impacts of such vegetation shifts requires an understanding of the dynamics of tree line-climate interrelations. In this chapter we review some of the data and current concepts regarding climate-vegetation dynamics at the circumpolar tree line. In an effort to evaluate the mechanisms responsible for forest development we review selected northern European and North American studies of northern forests, the tree line, and forest-tundra, and evaluate the dominant influences and processes of forest development at the forest edge. We synthesize this information to suggest how the tree line might react in real terms to future climate warming.


Tree Growth Tree Line Tree Island Forest Development Northern Forest 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Springer-Verlag New York, Inc. 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter A. Scott
  • Claude Lavoie
  • Glen M. MacDonald
  • Bjartmar Sveinbjörnsson
  • Ross W. Wein

There are no affiliations available

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