Increasing large scale windstorm damage in Western, Central and Northern European forests, 1951-2010
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CitationGregow H. Laaksonen A. Alper ME. (2017). Increasing large scale windstorm damage in Western, Central and Northern European forests, 1951-2010. Scientific Reports, 7, 46397. 10.1038/srep46397.
Using reports of forest losses caused directly by large scale windstorms (or primary damage, PD) from the European forest institute database (comprising 276 PD reports from 1951–2010), total growing stock (TGS) statistics of European forests and the daily North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) index, we identify a statistically significant change in storm intensity in Western, Central and Northern Europe (17 countries). Using the validated set of storms, we found that the year 1990 represents a change-point at which the average intensity of the most destructive storms indicated by PD/TGS > 0.08% increased by more than a factor of three. A likelihood ratio test provides strong evidence that the change-point represents a real shift in the statistical behaviour of the time series. All but one of the seven catastrophic storms (PD/TGS > 0.2%) occurred since 1990. Additionally, we detected a related decrease in September–November PD/TGS and an increase in December–February PD/TGS. Our analyses point to the possibility that the impact of climate change on the North Atlantic storms hitting Europe has started during the last two and half decades.