Assessment of projected climate change in the Carpathian Region using the Holdridge life zone system

Zoltán Szelepcsényi, Hajnalka Breuer, Anna Kis, Rita Pongrácz, Pál Sümegi

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In this paper, expected changes in the spatial and altitudinal distribution patterns of Holdridge life zone (HLZ) types are analysed to assess the possible ecological impacts of future climate change for the Carpathian Region, by using 11 bias-corrected regional climate model simulations of temperature and precipitation. The distribution patterns of HLZ types are characterized by the relative extent, the mean centre and the altitudinal range. According to the applied projections, the following conclusions can be drawn: (a) the altitudinal ranges are likely to expand in the future, (b) the lower and upper altitudinal limits as well as the altitudinal midpoints may move to higher altitudes, (c) a northward shift is expected for most HLZ types and (d) the magnitudes of these shifts can even be multiples of those observed in the last century. Related to the northward shifts, the HLZ types warm temperate thorn steppe and subtropical dry forest can also appear in the southern segment of the target area. However, a large uncertainty in the estimated changes of precipitation patterns was indicated by the following: (a) the expected change in the coverage of the HLZ type cool temperate steppe is extremely uncertain because there is no consensus among the projections even in terms of the sign of the change (high inter-model variability) and (b) a significant trend in the westward/eastward shift is simulated just for some HLZ types (high temporal variability). Finally, it is important to emphasize that the uncertainty of our results is further enhanced by the fact that some important aspects (e.g. seasonality of climate variables, direct CO2 effect, etc.) cannot be considered in the estimating process.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-18
Number of pages18
JournalTheoretical and Applied Climatology
Publication statusAccepted/In press - Nov 12 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science

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