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Identification and management of the environmental risks associated with man-made changes using the cambial activity monitoring in North-Western Russia

Final Report Summary - CAMBIFORRUS (Identification and management of the environmental risks associated with man-made changes using the cambial activity monitoring in North-Western Russia)

The main objective of the CAMBIFORRUS project was to build and strengthen cooperation between European Union (EU) researchers and partners in Northwest (NW-) Russia on issues of global change impacts on environmental conditions and forest growth. The project aimed to promote the cooperation by training and integrating resources of participating scientific organisations in Europe and NW-Russia. This is needed in order to sustain the role of the EU on the international stage and to make available the European methodological capacity in the area of forest growth trends due to changing environment for studies in North-Western Russia.

The project's specific objectives were:
1. to provide training for scientists from NW-Russia on modern methods of management of environmental risks associated with man-made change by means of cambial monitoring developed in EU;
2. to setup a field measurement station equipped with dendrometers and magnetic variometer sensors in Laly Research Forest (Komi, Russia);
3. to improve scientific communication between researchers from Northwest Russia and EU through providing training and further collaboration;
4. to provide access to scientific information about response of forests to changing environmental conditions in NW-Russia for EU scientists;
5. to foster joint research projects in management of the risks associated with global climate change;
6. to organise meetings for preparing joint research project proposals and strengthen the cooperation through joint research;
7. to study the potential impacts of man-made changes on wood balance in NW-Russia in the future.

The major achievements during the reporting period were:
(i) the provision of training for scientists;
(ii) the configuration, installation and operation of the dendro-ecological and magnetic field measurement station at Laly Research Forest in Komi Republic; and
(iii) the dissemination of the project results.

The project was structured based on the following subjects:

- Periodicity of climatic conditions in Komi based on dendrochronological data
The goal of the investigations carried out in the framework of the project was to study the nature of climatic factors that affect the radial growth of coniferous trees on the territory of the Komi Republic with the aim of division of the Komi region into districts according to climate features. The method of investigation was analysis of the periodicities in the radial tree growth. Analysis of radial growth of the trees growing in different landscape zones of the Komi Republic (forest-tundra, northern, middle, and southern boreal forest) has revealed several groups of quasi-periodicities, such as 6-9, 10- 12, 13-14, 15-19, 21-24, and 28-33- year periodicities. Analysis of meteorological and climatic data and also of variability in solar activity suggests that the periodicities revealed can be divided into two classes according to their possible physical nature.

- Risks for forests associated with climatic and environmental changes
Changing climatic and environmental conditions may lead to increased risks to biotic systems, and one of the scopes of the project was to identify such risks. Fire, insects, and extreme weather events are the main sources of risks to boreal forests. Both forest composition and production are largely governed by fire frequency, size, intensity, and seasonality. There is evidence of both regional increase and decrease in fire activity. Considerable progress has been made in understanding the nature of the forest fires and related processes, leading to improvements in the quality of the projections of future fire regimes. Current modelling studies suggest that increased temperatures and longer growing seasons will elevate fire risk in connection with increased aridity. Insect outbreaks are major sources of natural disturbance for many forest types. The effects vary from defoliation and growth loss, to timber damage, to massive forest diebacks. Recent studies indicate that in boreal forest, tree defoliating insects affect an area about 50 times larger than forest fires. Climate change may affect forest growth through changing extreme weather conditions acting both directly and indirectly through biophysiological mechanisms. Warming in the winter and spring may encourage premature growth so that subsequent frost can lead to damage in plants. Another factor that increases the risks of damage for boreal forests is the storm intensity. Relationships between storms and climate change are still poorly understood; however, wind throw impact can be substantive, and for southern Finland some findings suggest increased susceptibility to wind throw by climate change.

- High resolution regional climate modelling for NW-Russia
The purpose of this chapter is three-fold:
- to overview the variety of methods that are used in regional high-resolution climate modelling;
- to examine the current and projected for the future temperature changes;
- to develop the high resolution regional projections of the air temperature characteristics for the study region in NW-Russia using combination of various predictive methods.
Following many preceding studies, it was presumed that the shape of the PDF for the air temperature in the next several decades will remain the same. Such an assumption allows projecting temperature characteristics that are essential for modelling cambial activity, such as temperature frequency distributions (TFDs), through overlaying the current TFDs at individual weather stations by projected for the future changes in the mean seasonal temperatures.

- Cambial activity monitoring at Laly Research Station
Within the stand 20 sample trees, for each dominating species 5 replications, have been selected from the crown class of dominant trees for dendrometer measurements. For the measurement of changes in radial dimension electronic point dendrometers, mounted at breast height (1.3 m stem height above ground) are used. Dendrometer readings were taken every minute. Total seasonal radial displacement of the aspen sample trees is more than five times larger than that of the spruce sample trees. Whereas the spruce and pine sample trees in the mean reach 50 % of the total seasonal cumulative radial displacement around day 180, this is delayed for aspen by 5 and for birch by more than 10 days. This is due to a retarded start of radial growth of these two species and lower growth rates in the early phase of the season.

- Strategy of identification of individual tree response to meteorological parameters for boreal forest conditions
On regional and interregional levels the strategy of individual response includes several stages. First of all in the process of climatic differences revelation it is necessary to exclude dynamical reactions caused by own biological characteristics of trees. Consequently, for compared areas it is necessary to determine the dynamical types. On the second stage a comparative analysis between analogous dynamical types is carried out in different regions. In the limits of DT in order to achieve a higher accuracy it is expedient to make a comparison between the trees which have equal significant retrospective intervals.

- Effects of changes in the electromagnetic environment on trees
The program of the project included fabrication and installation of facilities for monitoring of the electromagnetic environment and variations in the electric potential in trees of the Laly Research Station. The facilities included a GI-MTS-1 geophysical complex developed and fabricated by SPbF IZMIRAN. This complex allowed real-time monitoring of natural geomagnetic variations and also the currents flowing in the medium under study, i.e. currents in trees and telluric currents at the Earth's surface in this case. The complex included a GPS-receiver, which gave possibility to perform a precise time control of the processes being detected. Preliminary analysis of geomagnetic and telluric variations and also variations in the electric potential Ez in trees has shown that variations along tree stems are mainly due to internal biological processes occurring in the trees. At the same time, the problem of induced currents in tree stems and also the effect of extremal solar events require a more detailed consideration. The structure of variations in Ez in conifers (spruce and pine) markedly differs from that in foliage trees (aspen and birch). The variations in Ez in pine and spruce are similar. The structure of variations in Ez prior to the vegetation period and at the early stage of it (April-May) differs from the structure of variations in summer months. The 24-hour periodicity in Ez is most pronounced during the active phase of vegetation (late June-July). During this period the 24-hour periodicity in Ez is observed for all the trees species. The preliminary results indicate that monitoring of variations in Ez in trees can give additional valuable information on internal biological processes occurring in different tree species.

- Analysis and needs of cooperation between NW-Russia and the EU in the field of forest growth research
At present there is absence of detailed knowledge about response of forests to changing environmental conditions in regions of NW-Russia except the Komi Republic. Implementation of the CAMBIFORRUS project allowed obtaining valuable information about the impact of climate on forest growth. At the same time no clear conclusion could be drawn done yet about changes in forest growth in Karelia, Leningrad oblast, Nents autonomy and Arkchangelsk region. The cooperation between EU and NW-Russia in the field of studying climate influence on forest growth should be further developed.