Tropical forests are unlikely to lose biomass in response to greenhouse gas emissions over the twenty-first century, suggest model simulations published in a study online this week in Nature Geoscience. Despite considerable uncertainty, in particular regarding plant physiological responses to global warming, this work suggests that climate-induced damage to tropical forests will be lower than previously thought.
Chris Huntingford and colleagues used simulations with twenty-two climate models to explore the response of tropical forests in the Americas, Africa and Asia to greenhouse-gas-induced climate change. They found loss of forest cover in only one model, and only in the Americas. The researchers also found that inter-model differences in plant physiological processes represent the largest source of uncertainty in the projection, ahead of the choice of emission scenario and differences between various climate projections.