Climate change projections for the PRF were provided by McKenny et al. of NRCan-CFS (https://cfs.nrcan.gc.ca/projects/3/6) based on the Representative Concentration Pathways (RCP). General trends of the RCP2.6, RCP4.5, and RCP8.5 scenarios were examined. Key climate metrics of interest are mean annual temperature, mean annual precipitation, and mean annual climate moisture index which is a calculated metric that blends temperature and precipitation. These were summarized for the following periods: historical norms (1971-2000), 2011-41, 2041-70 and 2071-2100.
Located within the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Forest region, key projected climate change impacts for the Petawawa Research Forest include:
- Increased summer moisture stress due to drought and the increased potential for wildfire concerns
- irregular seed production necessitating a reduced reliance on natural regeneration
- Increased frequency of snow and ice storms leading to crown damage and snow loading on seedlings
- Warmer winter temperatures and increased evapotranspiration
- Rain or snow events leading to rapid snow melt and fluctuating water tables
Climate change also has the potential to bring positive outcomes to PRF. Warmer temperatures and longer growing seasons may increase tree productivity and enhance timber production. White pine, the most dominant and economically important tree species at the PRF, is expected to fare relatively well under future climate conditions. Some tree species currently found on-site are expected to have increased habitat suitability, including red oak, which may create opportunities to diversify forest composition and forest product offerings.