Water availability predicts forest canopy height at the global scale

Klein, Tamir and Randin, Christophe F. and Körner, Christian. (2015) Water availability predicts forest canopy height at the global scale. Ecology letters, 18 (12). pp. 1311-1320.

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The tendency of trees to grow taller with increasing water availability is common knowledge. Yet a robust, universal relationship between the spatial distribution of water availability and forest canopy height (H) is lacking. Here, we created a global water availability map by calculating an annual budget as the difference between precipitation (P) and potential evapotranspiration (PET) at a 1-km spatial resolution, and in turn correlated it with a global H map of the same resolution. Across forested areas over the globe, Hmean increased with P-PET, roughly: Hmean (m) = 19.3 + 0.077*(P-PET). Maximum forest canopy height also increased gradually from ~ 5 to ~ 50 m, saturating at ~ 45 m for P-PET > 500 mm. Forests were far from their maximum height potential in cold, boreal regions and in disturbed areas. The strong association between forest height and P-PET provides a useful tool when studying future forest dynamics under climate change, and in quantifying anthropogenic forest disturbance.
Faculties and Departments:05 Faculty of Science > Departement Umweltwissenschaften > Ehemalige Einheiten Umweltwissenschaften > Pflanzenökologie (Körner)
UniBasel Contributors:Körner, Christian and Klein, Tamir
Item Type:Article, refereed
Article Subtype:Research Article
Note:Publication type according to Uni Basel Research Database: Journal article
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Last Modified:30 Jun 2016 11:00
Deposited On:30 May 2016 09:05

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