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Updated 21 April, 2004

US National Assessment of
the Potential Consequences
of Climate Variability and Change
Sector: Forests


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The National Assessment Overview and Foundation Reports were produced  by the National Assessment Synthesis Team, an advisory committee chartered under the Federal Advisory Committee Act, and were not subjected to OSTP's Information Quality Act Guidelines. The National Assessment was forwarded to the President and Congress in November 2000 for their consideration.

Photo of forest viewed from the airPublications by the National Assessment Synthesis Team

Links to Material from the Forests Assessment Group

Related Articles from the National Assessment's Newsletter, Acclimations.

Other related Links:

  • Forests and Global Climate Change.  Press release (dtd 26 Feb 2003) from Pew Center for Global Climate Change. Includes access to full report.  (link posted 31 March 2003)

Issues Covered

The Forests Sector concentrated on the potential changes that could occur in forests with climate change. Specifically, the assessment activities examined the productivity of forests, species diversity in forests, the potential changes in carbon storage, and changes in water availability to forest systems. Those involved in the assessment looked at possible alterations in physical (i.e. temperature and humidity) and chemical (i.e. changing air quality) atmospheric properties which can drive changes in the forests. The assessment also examined the role of social and economic shifts in changing the character of forests. Finally, the Forests Sector examined the role changing climate and climate variability could have on disturbance factors such as pests, fire, and disease within forest ecosystems.

Assessment Approach

The Forests Sector used published literature and data along with model simulations to evaluate the potential impact of climate change on forests.  Nationally consistent, large-scale models were used to compare impacts in different forest systems throughout the country. Where more detailed regional models of forest response to climate existed, comparisons were generated between the two approaches to assess the range of potential outcomes. Through this approach, the sector developed an array of potential impacts and coping strategies that could apply to the forests of the United States under climate change.


John Aber, University of New Hampshire

Steven McNulty, U.S. Forest Service
Coordinating Federal Agency U.S. Department of Agriculture / U.S. Forest Service
Agency Representative Fred Kaiser, U.S. Forest Service
  • Forest processes
  • Biodiversity
  • Socioeconomic/human dimensions
  • Disturbance
Summer 2000 Forest Sector Assessment Team Papers to be published in special issue of The Science of Total Environment
Fall 2000 Forest Sector Assessment Team Papers to be published in special issue of BioScience



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