Water limitation can negate the effect of higher temperatures on forest carbon sequestration

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Climate change will bring about a consistent increase in temperatures. Annual precipitation rates are also expected to increase in boreal countries, but the seasonal distribution will be uneven, and several areas in the boreal zone will experience wetter winters and drier summers. This study uses the dynamic forest ecosystem model ForSAFE to estimate the combined effect of changes in temperature and precipitation on forest carbon stocks in Sweden. The model is used to simulate carbon stock changes in 544 productive forest sites from the Swedish National Forest Inventory. Forest carbon stocks under two alternative climate scenarios are compared to stocks under a hypothetical scenario of no climate change (baseline). Results show that lower water availability in the future can cause a significant reduction in tree carbon compared to a baseline scenario, particularly expressed in the southern and eastern parts of Sweden. In contrast, the north-western parts will experience an increase in tree carbon stocks. Results show also that summer precipitation is a better predictor of tree carbon reduction than annual precipitation. Finally, the change in soil carbon stock is less conspicuous than in tree carbon stock, showing no significant change in the north and a relatively small but consistent decline in the south. The study indicates that the prospect of higher water deficit caused by climate change cannot be ignored in future forest management planning.


External organisations
  • Stockholm University
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Physical Geography
  • Climate Research


  • Climate change, Dynamic modelling, Forest carbon stock, ForSAFE, Sweden, Water deficiency
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)287-297
JournalEuropean Journal of Forest Research
Issue number2
Early online date2019 Jan 25
Publication statusPublished - 2019
Publication categoryResearch