Assessing the impacts of climate change and nitrogen deposition on Norway spruce (Picea abies L. Karst) growth in Austria with BIOME-BGC

Document Type


Publication details

Eastaugh, CS, Potzelsberger, E & Hasenauer, H 2011, 'Assessing the impacts of climate change and nitrogen deposition on Norway spruce (Picea abies L. Karst) growth in Austria with BIOME-BGC', Tree Physiology, vol. 31, no. 3, pp. 262-274.

Published version available from:


Peer Reviewed



The aim of this paper is to determine whether a detectable impact of climate change is apparent in Austrian forests. In regions of complex terrain such as most of Austria, climatic trends over the past 50 years show marked geographic variability. As climate is one of the key drivers of forest growth, a comparison of growth characteristics between regions with different trends in temperature and precipitation can give insights into the impact of climatic change on forests. This study uses data from several hundred climate recording stations, interpolated to measurement sites of the Austrian National Forest Inventory (NFI). Austria as a whole shows a warming trend over the past 50 years and little overall change in precipitation. The warming trends, however, vary considerably across certain regions and regional precipitation trends vary widely in both directions, which cancel out on the national scale These differences allow the delineation of 'climatic change zones' with internally consistent climatic trends that differ from other zones. This study applies the species-specific adaptation of the biogeochemical model BIOME-BGC to Norway spruce (Picea abies (L.) Karst) across a range of Austrian climatic change zones, using input data from a number of national databases. The relative influence of extant climate change on forest growth is quantified, and compared with the far greater impact of non-climatic factors. At the national scale, climate change is found to have negligible effect on Norway spruce productivity, due in part to opposing effects at the regional level. The magnitudes of the modeled non-climatic influences on aboveground woody biomass increment increases are consistent with previously reported values of 20-40kg of added stem carbon sequestration per kilogram of additional nitrogen deposition, while climate responses are of a magnitude difficult to detect in NFI data.