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The unique climate of forests

Global air temperatures are warming. However, do temperatures in forests change in the same way as the temperatures measured by weather stations? It is known that on a hot summer day the climate inside a forest is much cooler than in an open field. Likewise, during a summer night it is warmer inside the forest. This buffering capacity of forests can help understory plants and animals to cope with climate change. With significant buffering, species indeed need to migrate slower than anticipated, and therefore plants could have more time to adapt to the changing climate. Our aim is to assess forest microclimates and their effects on plants in European temperate forests.


To build knowledge on the importance of microclimates, get new insights in responses to climate change and to soundly inform policy makers and land managers.


We make use of temperature gradients across spatial scales: from northern Europe (Norway) to southern Europe (Italy), from low elevation at sea level to high elevation in mountains, from untouched to highly managed forests and from the forest edge to forest interior. We measure vegetation, microclimate, macroclimate, forest structure, soil characteristics and other environmental variables and set out experiments to simulate climate change. Finally, we model future impacts on forest biodiversity, specifically taking microclimate into account.


The project is coordinated by Fornalab, Ghent University, Belgium, by Pieter De Frenne (Pieter.DeFrenne(at), in collaboration with the FLEUR network.

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