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Latest Projects

Research project (§ 26 & § 27)
Duration : 2018-09-01 - 2020-06-30

Maps of the growth potential for the non-native coastal Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii var. menziesii) are presented for Austria and Germany. For deriving the growth potentials we used an available site-sensitive statistical model which determines productivity as the dominant-height at age 60 (SI60). The model was calibrated using data from 28 Douglas fir stands in Austria and Germany growing on silicate and carbonate bedrock. The model is based on a non-linear relationship between SI60 versus ten climatic as well as soil physical and chemical site parameters at a 1 km x 1 km grid for Austria and Germany. The results revealed that the Northern Alpine foothills in southern Germany are an area with a particularly high growth potential according to the current climatic conditions (mean 1970-2000). We applied two climate change scenarios (RCP 4.5 and RCP 8.5) to assess the future productivity of Douglas fir. The results show that changing growth conditions will have a positive impact on Douglas fir growth at higher altitudes, whereas the productivity may decline in areas where the current growing conditions are dry or highly productive.
Research project (§ 26 & § 27)
Duration : 2019-07-01 - 2020-06-30

Several recent studies found evidence for increasing forest disturbances throughout Europe and especially in Austria. While large scale data on forest disturbances was lacking for the most of the time, remote sensing methods enabled scientists to overcome this barrier. This lead to historic disturbance maps for several European countries, which distinguish reliably between disturbed and undisturbed forest areas. Besides that, a major remaining challenge lays in determining the causes for these observed disturbance patches. Therefore we employ field work and statistical modelling to quantify the agent-based disturbance regimes in Austria’s forest.
Research project (§ 26 & § 27)
Duration : 2019-03-01 - 2021-02-28

Accumulating evidence suggests increasing forest mortality across Europe as a consequence of past land use and ongoing climate change. However, the exact rates and trends of forest mortality remain elusive for Europe at the continental scale, mainly due to a scarcity of long-term mortality monitoring and the challenge of harmonizing national forest inventories. We aim at closing this knowledge gap by using long-term satellite records to reconstruct more than three decades of forest mortality across Europe and analyze its agents and patterns at the continental scale. Our specific objectives are to (I) estimate national-level forest mortality rates and trends over the time period 1984 to 2018; to (II) attribute mortality trends to causal agents by integrating remote sensing and social-environmental data into a data-driven attribution approach; and to (III) map forest mortality consistently at a spatial grain of 30 m across Europe, allowing for spatial pattern analysis of past forest mortality events. We build on a rich set of methods and experiences gained during previous work focusing on six countries in Central Europe. Here, we propose to extent our research to cover 32 European countries, four biomes (boreal, temperate, montane and Mediterranean forests), and more than 170 million ha of forests. Moreover, the project will deliver the first continental scale attribution of mortality to causal agents, presenting detailed maps of the causes of forest forest change in Europe. Given the social and ecological importance of forest mortality, the results of the project will be of high relevance for a range of future research, including the study of European carbon stocks and biodiversity, and for developing simulation models accurately predicting changes in forest mortality into the future.

Supervised Theses and Dissertations