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Wind speed measurements and forest damage in Canton Zurich (Central Europe) from 1891 to winter 2007

Usbeck, Tilo
Wohlgemuth, Thomas
Pfister, Christian
Volz, Richard
Dobbertin, Matthias
Published in International Journal of Climatology. 2009, 12p.
Abstract The most severe damage to forests in central Europe occurs during winter storms that are caused by Northern Hemispheric mid-latitude cyclones. These winter storms have caused several catastrophic windthrows during the past four decades. Amounts of forest storm damage are believed to be a function of both the size of the forest and the storm intensity. To test this hypothesis, the Zurich region (city and canton) was chosen because long-term climate observation data is available for the region. The relationships between forest attributes, wind speed and forest damage were explored by comparing data on forests and wind speed from 107 winters with forest damage. Storm damage was defined as the proportion of damaged forests with respect to the growing stock. The variables: daily wind run (91 years), daily maximum hourly average wind speed (107 years) and peak gust wind speed (74 years) were homogenized with respect to high wind speed and related to levels of forest damage. High maximum wind speed at the end of the 19th century and at the beginning of the 20th century was followed by low maximum wind speed in the 1940s, 1960s and 1970s. Since then, maximum values have increased. Gusts (extremes of the maximum wind speed) increased from the beginning of the recordings in 1933 and peaked in the early 1990s. Forest damage due to winter storms is best correlated with peak wind speed. Gusts exceeding 40 m/s and resulting in catastrophic windthrow have increased in recent winters.
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Research groups ISE Pôle Sciences
ISE Climat
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USBECK, Tilo et al. Wind speed measurements and forest damage in Canton Zurich (Central Europe) from 1891 to winter 2007. In: International Journal of Climatology, 2009, p. 12p. doi: 10.1002/joc.1895 https://archive-ouverte.unige.ch/unige:18461

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Deposited on : 2012-02-21

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