In this work we developed projections for future fire regimes in the Iberian Peninsula using outputs from Regional Climate Model (RCM) from the ENSEMBLES project. Wildfires are the cause of major ecological and economic impacts in this region, and the increasing evidence of climate change consequences in this region raises concerns on the future impacts of fires in the Iberian forests ecosystems.
Our results confirm that the inter-annual variability of total burnt area is mainly controlled by meteorological conditions, in spite of the current efforts for fire control and suppression. We also show that this meteorology dominance over fire activity is not only true during the fire season itself, but also that certain specific meteorological backgrounds (such as prolonged droughts) may enhance the risk for severe wildfire episodes in some areas.
Based on a previous classification of the Iberian Peninsula into four distinct pyro-regions, we developed statistical models which reproduce about two thirds of the inter-annual variability of the burnt area, using meteorological variables as predictors (calibrated with data from the ERA-Interim reanalysis). Specific models were developed for each sub-domain, testing their robustness for extrapolation under climate-change conditions.
Using an ensemble of state-of-the-art RCM future climate scenarios, we present future BA projections considering two alternative techniques of statistical correction of model data often used in climate change impact studies: (1) unbiasing method; (2) delta change method.
Our results clearly project large increases in mean burnt areas for all the considered pyro-regions, despite some fluctuations regarding each considered technique. By 2075, mean burnt areas could be about two to three times larger than in the present, taking into account current climate projections for the next century, and non-significant changes in other external factors, such as human activity, fire suppression or land use.
In Portugal, the precipitation regimes present one of the highest volumes of extreme precipitation occurrence in Europe, and one of the largest mean precipitation spatial gradient (annual observed values above 2,500 mm in the NW and under 400 mm in the SE). Moreover, southern Europe is one of the most vulnerable regions in the world to climate change. In the ENSEMBLES framework many climate change assessment studies were performed, but none focused on Portuguese precipitation.
An extensive evaluation and ranking of the RCMs results addressing the representation of mean precipitation and frequency distributions was performed through the computation of statistical errors and frequency distribution scores. With these results, an ensemble was constructed; giving the same weight to mean precipitation and distribution model skills. This ensemble reveals a good ability to describe the precipitation regime in Portugal, and enables the evaluation of the eventual impact of climate change on Portuguese precipitation according to the A1B scenario.
The mean seasonal precipitation is expected to decrease substantially in all seasons, excluding winter. This reduction is statistically significant; it spans from less than 20 % in the north to 40 % in the south in the intermediate seasons, and is above 50 % in the largest portion of mainland in summer. At a basin level the precipitation diminishes in all months for all the basins with exception of December. Total precipitation PDFs reveal an important decrease of the contribution from low to moderate/high precipitation bins, and a striking rise for days with extreme rainfall, up to 30 %.
Understanding the responses of cork oak (Quercus suber L.) to actual and predicted summer conditions is essential to determine the future sustainability of cork oak woodlands in Iberia. Thermal imaging may provide a rapid method for monitoring the extent of stress. The ecophysiology of cork trees was studied over three years.
Three treatments were applied by means of rainfall capture and irrigation, with plots receiving 120%, 100%, or 80% of natural precipitation. Despite stomatal closure, detected using both thermal imaging and porometry, leaf water potential fell during the summer, most drastically during the third year of accumulative stress. The quantum efficiency (ΦPSII) and the maximum efficiency Fv' /FM' of photosystem II also fell more intensely over the third summer, while non-photochemical quenching (NPQ) increased.
The reduced precipitation treatment sporadically further reduced leaf water potential, stomatal conductance (gs), IG (an index of gs derived from thermal imaging), ΦPSII, and Fv' /FM', and increased leaf temperature and NPQ. It is concluded that these are very resilient trees since they were only severely affected in the third year of severe drought (the third year registering 45% less rainfall than average), and removing 20% of rainfall had a limited impact.
This study details the physiological responses of cork oak (Quercus suber L.) to manipulated water inputs. Treatments named as dry, ambient and wet, which received 80, 100 and 120% of the annual precipitation, respectively, were applied to a Mediterranean woodland in southern Portugal. Tree ecophysiology and growth were monitored from 2003 to 2005.
The impacts of the water manipulation were primarily observed in tree transpiration, especially during summer drought. Rainfall exclusion reduced the annual stand canopy transpiration by 10% over the 2-year study period, while irrigation increased it by 11%. The accumulated tree transpiration matched precipitation in spring 2004 and 2005 at the stand level, suggesting that cork oak trees rely on precipitation water sources during the peak of the growing season. However, during the summer droughts, groundwater was the main water source for trees.
Despite the significant differences in soil water content and tree transpiration, no treatment effects could be detected in leaf water potential and leaf gas exchange, except for a single event after spring irrigations in the very dry year 2005. These irrigations were intentionally delayed to reduce dry spell duration during the peak of tree growing season. They resulted in an acute positive physiological response of trees from the wet treatment one week after the last irrigation event leading to a 32% raise of stem diameter increment the following months. Our results suggest that in a semi-arid environment precipitation changes in spring (amount and timing) have a stronger impact on cork oak physiology and growth than an overall change in the total annual precipitation. The extreme drought of 2005 had a negative impact on tree growth. The annual increment of tree trunk diameter in the ambient and dry treatments was reduced, while it increased for trees from the wet treatment. Water shortage also significantly reduced leaf area. The latter dropped by 10.4% in response to the extreme drought of 2005 in trees from the ambient treatment. The reduction was less pronounced in trees of the wet treatment (−7.6%), and more pronounced in trees of the dry treatment (−14.7%).
Cork oak showed high resiliency to inter-annual precipitation variability. The annual accumulated tree transpiration, the minimum midday leaf water potential and the absolute amount of groundwater used by trees appeared unaffected by the extreme drought of 2005. Our study shows that cork oak rapidly and completely recovered from the extreme dry year of 2005 or from rainfall exclusion. Our results support the eco-hydrological equilibrium theory by which plant acquire complementary protective mechanisms to buffer the large variability in water availability experienced in semi-arid ecosystems. In optimizing their structural biomass increase in response to increasing drought stress, cork oak trees succeeded in restricting water losses to maintain the minimum leaf water potential above the critical threshold of xylem embolism, though with narrower hydraulic safety margins in 2005.
Our findings highlight cork oak's sensitivity to the amount and timing of late spring precipitation. This could be critical as future climate scenarios predict a reduction of spring precipitation as well as enhanced severity of droughts in the Iberian Peninsula by the end of the 21st century. In inducing water stress before the onset of summer droughts, the predicted spring precipitation decline could drive the species closer to the threshold of catastrophic xylem embolism at the peak of the drought period.
Western Iberia has recently shown increasing frequency of drought conditions coupled with heatwave events, leading to exacerbated limiting climatic conditions for plant growth. It is not clear to what extent wood growth and density of agroforestry species have suffered from such changes or recent extreme climate events. To address this question, tree-ring width and density chronologies were built for a Pinus pinaster stand in southern Portugal and correlated with climate variables, including the minimum, mean and maximum temperatures and the number of cold days.
Monthly and maximum daily precipitations were also analyzed as well as dry spells. The drought effect was assessed using the standardized precipitation-evapotranspiration (SPEI) multi-scalar drought index, between 1 to 24-months. The climate-growth/density relationships were evaluated for the period 1958-2011. We show that both wood radial growth and density highly benefit from the strong decay of cold days and the increase of minimum temperature. Yet the benefits are hindered by long-term water deficit, which results in different levels of impact on wood radial growth and density. Despite of the intensification of long-term water deficit, tree-ring width appears to benefit from the minimum temperature increase, whereas the effects of long-term droughts significantly prevail on tree-ring density.
Our results further highlight the dependency of the species on deep water sources after the juvenile stage. The impact of climate changes on long-term droughts and their repercussion on the shallow groundwater table and P. pinaster’s vulnerability are also discussed. This work provides relevant information for forest management in the semi-arid area of the Alentejo region of Portugal. It should ease the elaboration of mitigation strategies to assure P. pinaster’s production capacity and quality in response to more arid conditions in the near future in the region.
Regional climate models provided precipitation and temperature time series for control (1961-1990) and scenario (2071-2100) periods. At southern Portugal, the climate models in the control period systematically present higher temperatures and lower precipitation than the observations. Therefore, the direct input of climate model data into hydrological models might result in more severe scenarios for future water availability. Three bias correction methods (Delta Change, Direct Forcing and Hybrid) are analysed and their performances in water availability impact studies are assessed.
The Delta Change method assumes that the observed series variability is maintained in the scenario period and is corrected by the evolution predicted by the climate models. The Direct Forcing method maintains the scenario series variability, which is corrected by the bias found in the control period, and the Hybrid method maintains the control model series variability, which is corrected by the bias found in the control period and by the evolution predicted by the climate models.
To assess the climate impacts in the water resources expected for the scenario period, a physically based spatially distributed hydrological model, SHETRAN, is used for runoff projections in a southern Portugal basin. The annual and seasonal runoff shows a runoff decrease in the scenario period, increasing the water shortage that is already experienced. The overall annual reduction varies between -80% and -35%. In general, the results show that the runoff reductions obtained with climate models corrected with the Delta Change method are highest but with a narrow range that varies between -80% and -52%.
This study evaluates climate change potential impacts on irrigated agriculture in the Guadiana river basin, in the south of Portugal, by running long-term soil water balance simulations using the ISAREG model and taking into consideration the maximum potential yield. The ISAREG simulations were focused in a set of the most locally representative crops to assess the evolution of net and total water requirements, considering a monthly time step for two 30-year future periods,(2011–2040) and (2041–2070).
Reference evapotranspiration was estimated using the temperature-based Hargreaves–Samani equation, and the simulations were performed using, as inputs, a combination of five climate change scenarios built using the Ensemble-Delta technique fromCMIP3 climateprojectionsdatasets to setdifferent alternative climate change bracketing conditions for rainfall and air temperature.Water balance outputs for different climate scenarios were combined with four agricultural scenarios allowing for the estimation of total irrigation requirements.
A general increase in crop irrigation requirements was estimated, mainly for those crops as maize, pasture, and orchards that are already big irrigation water consumers. Crops as olive groves and vineyards, well adapted to the Mediterranean conditions, show less sensitivity to climate change. The combined results of crop irrigation requirements for climate change and agricultural scenarios allow for the expectation of sustainability for the agricultural scenarios A and C, essentially defined by the complete use of the irrigation network and systems currently being constructed with the Alqueva project, but not for the ambitious irrigation area expanding scenario B.
Respiration traits allow calculating temperature-dependent carbon use efficiency and prediction of growth rates.
This protocol aims
(1) to enable validation of respiration traits as non-DNA biomarkers for breeding on robust plants in support of sustainable and healthy plant production;
(2) to provide an efficient, novel way to identify and predict functionality of DNA-based markers (genes, polymorphisms, edited genes, transgenes, genomes, and hologenomes), and
(3) to directly help farmers select robust material appropriate for a specified region.
The protocol is based on applying isothermal calorespirometry and consists of four steps: plant tissue preparation, calorespirometry measurements, data processing, and final validation through massive field-based data.The methodology can serve selection and improvement for a wide range of crops. Several of them are currently being tested in the author's lab. Among them are important cereals, such as wheat, barley, and rye, and diverse vegetables. However, it is critical that the protocol for measuring respiration traits be well adjusted to the plant species by considering deep knowledge on the specific physiology and functional cell biology behind the final target trait for production.
Here, Daucus carota L. is chosen as an advanced example to demonstrate critical species-specific steps for protocol development. Carrot is an important global vegetable that is grown worldwide and in all climate regions (moderate, subtropical, and tropical). Recently, this species is also used in my lab as a model for studies on alternative oxidase (AOX) gene diversity and evolutionary dynamics in interaction with endophytes.
Reservoirs often play an important role in mitigating water supply problems. However, the implications of climate change are not always considered in reservoir planning and management. This study aimed to address this challenge in the Alto Sabor watershed, northeast Portugal.
The study analysed whether or not the shortage of water supply can be effectively addressed through the construction of a new reservoir (two-reservoir system) by considering future climate projections. The hydrological model Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) was calibrated and validated against daily-observed discharge and reservoir volume, with a good agreement between model predictions and observations.
Outputs from four General Circulation Models (GCM) for two scenarios (RCP 4.5 and 8.5) were statistically downscaled and bias-corrected with ground observations. A general increase in temperature is expected in the future while the change in precipitation is more uncertain as per the differences among climatic models. In general, annual precipitation would slightly decrease while seasonal changes would be more significant, with more precipitation in winter and much less in spring and summer. SWAT simulations suggest that the existence of two-reservoir will better solve the water supply problems under current climate conditions compared to a single-reservoir system.
However in the future, the reliability of this solution will decrease, especially due to the variability of projections from the different climatic models. The solution to water supply problems in this region, adopted taking only present-day climate into account, will likely be inefficient for water supply management under future climate conditions.
A fenotipagem de alto débito permite identificar parâmetros funcionais diretamente relacionados com o comportamento varietal em condições de stress climático. É uma ferramenta importante no moderno melhoramento de plantas uma vez que permite complementar os critérios habitualmente utilizados, aumentando a eficiência de seleção.