U.S. Forests are under significant pressure from global climate change. This study investigates the impact of climate change on U.S. forest at various aspects. In the first essay, I use a generalized linear model to examine how climatic conditions have influenced southern pine beetle (SPB; Dendroctonus frontalis Zimmermann) outbreaks in the southern U.S. and project future SPB infestations using the future climates projected by Global Climate models (GCMs). The estimation results indicate that climate significantly affects SPB outbreaks, but projected future SPB infestation would not move in one direction under the complex interactions between temperature and precipitation and the magnitude of damages would vary across the region. In the second essay, I use panel data analysis with various climate and spatial characteristic variables to investigate the effects of CO2 fertilization and climate variables on forest productivity across the U.S. The results from the second essay indicate that there is a significant correlation between climate variables and forest productivity. Also, projected global climate change would enhance future forest productivity in the South, the Pacific Coastal, and the northern Great Plains of the U.S. but likely threaten forest productivity in some regions such as the southern Great Plains. In the third essay, I investigate how forest carbon credits and SPB risk associated with climate change affect individual landowner's decision making using a real options framework. The results of the third essay reveal that carbon sequestration would increase the value of standing forests, whereas higher SPB risk associated with climate change would reduce the forest value. The higher value of standing forests would encourage the landowners to delay timber harvest. Overall results of this study show that climate change will have a mixed impact on U.S. forests, which requires region-specific adaptation and mitigation strategies.
- Gan, Jianbang Professor