Changes in the distribution of South Korean forest vegetation simulated using thermal gradient indices

Sungho Choi, Woo-Kyun Lee, Yo Whan Son, Seongjin Yoo, Jong Hwan Lim

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To predict changes in South Korean vegetation distribution, the Warmth Index (WI) and the Minimum Temperature of the Coldest Month Index (MTCI) were used. Historical climate data of the past 30 years, from 1971 to 2000, was obtained from the Korea Meteorological Administration. The Fifth-Generation National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) /Penn State Mesoscale Model (MM5) was used as a source for future climatic data under the A1B scenario from the Special Report on Emission Scenario (SRES) of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). To simulate future vegetation distribution due to climate change, the optimal habitat ranges of Korean tree species were delimited by the thermal gradient indices, such as WI and MTCI. To categorize the Thermal Analogy Groups (TAGs) for the tree species, the WI and MTCI were orthogonally plotted on a two-dimensional grid map. The TAGs were then designated by the analogue composition of tree species belonging to the optimal WI and MTCI ranges. As a result of the clustering process, 22 TAGs were generated to explain the forest vegetation distribution in Korea. The primary change in distribution for these TAGs will likely be in the shrinkage of areas for the TAGs related to Pinus densiflora and P. koraiensis, and in the expansion of the other TAG areas, mainly occupied by evergreen broad-leaved trees, such as Camellia japonica, Cyclobalanopsis glauca, and Schima superba. Using the TAGs to explain the effects of climate change on vegetation distribution on a more regional scale resulted in greater detail than previously used global or continental scale vegetation models.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)784-797
Number of pages14
JournalScience China Life Sciences
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2010 Aug 18



  • climate change
  • forest distribution
  • minimum temperature
  • thermal analogy group
  • warmth index

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Environmental Science(all)

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