Tracing Global Change in our Forests
Significant changes to the global climate are forecast over the next century. Climate change and the growing influences on land use by an expanding human population have the potential to seriously threaten the world’s forests. Because forests play a critical role in reducing the effect of global warming and a number of other important functions, understanding and predicting the effects of natural and imposed changes are essential. Dr. Jennifer Baltzer, Canada Research Chair in Forests and Global Change, is examining how three forest ecosystems and their tree species could respond to climate and land use changes and how these changes could affect our ability to predict forests’ long-term integrity. Baltzer is examining the impact of changes in atmospheric and soil water availability on forest dynamics and water use in Canada’s northern boreal forest at three locations in central Alberta and the Northwest Territories. She is also investigating the responses of the Acadian forest in the Maritimes to land use changes and environmental variation. In addition, Baltzer is measuring how tree species in the tropical Thai-Malay Peninsula are reacting to changing rainfall seasonality and drought. The global nature of Baltzer’s research will make it easier to understand the combined impacts of change on endangered forests. By allowing generalizations to be made on the response of forests to environmental change, Baltzer’s work will contribute significantly to policy development and decision-making.