Climate Change Tree and Bird Atlases  

As the reality of global climate change becomes increasingly apparent to the public and to many policymakers, scientists are being called on to provide information about possible outcomes. Dr. Louis Iverson and Anantha Prasad began modelling and mapping tree species from the eastern United States for their potential response to several scenarios of climate change around 1996. Their first climate change atlas for trees examined 80 tree species and was published in hardcopy and web. Then they joined with Stephen Matthews and Raymond O’Connor (now deceased) to produce a change atlas for 150 bird species. Now, along with Matthew Peters, they have expanded their analysis and loaded to the web 134 tree species and 147 bird species at 20 km resolution, using more accurate modelling tools and newer climate models (GCMs).

Tree Atlas:

The Climate Change Tree Atlas assesses the current status (2000) and potential future status (2100) following climate change, of 134 tree species in the eastern United States (east of 100th meridian). They use US Forest Service inventory data with 38 environmental variables to generate models of current suitable habitat for each species. In addition they change the climate according to three General Circulation Model (GCM) climate models (HADCM3, PCM & GFDL – see 3-GCMs for details) and two emissions scenarios (A1FI (Hi) = little conservation efforts to mitigate CO2 emissions, B1 (Lo) = significant conservation effort), and model the potential future species habitats. These two emissions scenarios bracket most of the emission futures as outlined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) evaluation of emission scenarios (Nakicenovic et al., 2000), and end the 21st century at roughly double (550 ppm-B1) and triple (970 ppm-A1fi) the pre-industrial levels of CO2.

Bird Atlas:

The Climate Change Bird Atlas assesses the current status and potential future status following climate change, of 147 bird species in the eastern United States. They use Breeding Bird Survey data with 11 environmental variables and 88 tree species potential change data to generate models of current suitable habitat for each species. They then change the climate according to three climate models (HADCM3, PCM & GFDL – see 3-GCMs for details) and two emissions scenarios (A1FI (Hi) = little conservation efforts to mitigate CO2 emissions, B1 (Lo) =significant conservation effort), and model the potential future species habitats. These two emissions scenarios bracket most of the emission futures as outlined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s evaluation of emission scenarios (Nakicenovic et al. 2000), and end the 21st century at roughly double (550 ppm-B1) and triple (970 ppm-A1fi) the pre-industrial levels for CO2.

Louis Iverson (liverson@fs.fed.us) and Anantha Prasad (aprasad@fs.fed.us): USDA Forest Service