Publication Details

Category Text Publication
Reference Category Journals
DOI 10.1111/gcb.16419
Document Shareable Link
Title (Primary) Forest structure and composition alleviate human thermal stress
Author Gillerot, L.; Landuyt, D.; Oh, R.; Chow, W.; Haluza, D.; Ponette, Q.; Jactel, H.; Bruelheide, H.; Jaroszewicz, B.; Scherer-Lorenzen, M.; De Frenne, P.; Muys, B.; Verheyen, K.
Journal Global Change Biology
Year 2022
Department iDiv; ESS
Volume 28
Issue 24
Page From 7340
Page To 7352
Language englisch
Topic T5 Future Landscapes
Data and Software links
Keywords Dr.FOREST; Forest microclimate; Heat stress; Nature-based solution; Physiologically Equivalent Temperature; Thermal comfort
Abstract Current climate change aggravates human health hazards posed by heat stress. Forests can locally mitigate this by acting as strong thermal buffers, yet potential mediation by forest ecological characteristics remains underexplored. We report over 14 months of hourly microclimate data from 131 forest plots across four European countries and compare these to open-field controls using physiologically equivalent temperature (PET) to reflect human thermal perception. Forests slightly tempered cold extremes, but the strongest buffering occurred under very hot conditions (PET > 35°C), where forests reduced strong to extreme heat stress day occurrence by 84.1%. Mature forests cooled the microclimate by 12.1 to 14.5°C PET under, respectively, strong and extreme heat stress conditions. Even young plantations reduced those conditions by 10°C PET. Forest structure strongly modulated the buffering capacity, which was enhanced by increasing stand density, canopy height and canopy closure. Tree species composition had a more modest yet significant influence: i.e., strongly shade-casting, small-leaved evergreen species amplified cooling. Tree diversity had little direct influences, though indirect effects through stand structure remain possible. Forests in general, both young and mature, are thus strong thermal stress reducers, but their cooling potential can be even further amplified given targeted (urban) forest management that considers these new insights.
Persistent UFZ Identifier
Gillerot, L., Landuyt, D., Oh, R., Chow, W., Haluza, D., Ponette, Q., Jactel, H., Bruelheide, H., Jaroszewicz, B., Scherer-Lorenzen, M., De Frenne, P., Muys, B., Verheyen, K. (2022):
Forest structure and composition alleviate human thermal stress
Glob. Change Biol. 28 (24), 7340 - 7352