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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2020

A spatially explicit database of wind disturbances in European forests over the period 2000-2018

Forzieri, Giovanni; Pecchi, Matteo; Girardello, Marco; Mauri, Achille; Klaus, Marcus; Nikolov, Christo; Ruetschi, Marius; Gardiner, Barry; Tomastik, Julian; Small, David; Nistor, Constantin; Jonikavicius, Donatas; Spinoni, Jonathan; Feyen, Luc; Giannetti, Francesca; Comino, Rinaldo; Wolynski, Alessandro; Pirotti, Francesco; Maistrelli, Fabio; Savulescu, Ionut;
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Strong winds may uproot and break trees and represent a major natural disturbance for European forests. Wind disturbances have intensified over the last decades globally and are expected to further rise in view of the effects of climate change. Despite the importance of such natural disturbances, there are currently no spatially explicit databases of wind-related impact at a pan-European scale. Here, we present a new database of wind disturbances in European forests (FORWIND). FORWIND is comprised of more than 80 000 spatially delineated areas in Europe that were disturbed by wind in the period 2000-2018 and describes them in a harmonized and consistent geographical vector format. The database includes all major windstorms that occurred over the observational period (e.g. Gudrun, Kyrill, Klaus, Xynthia and Vaia) and represents approximately 30% of the reported damaging wind events in Europe. Correlation analyses between the areas in FORWIND and land cover changes retrieved from the Landsat-based Global Forest Change dataset and the MODIS Global Disturbance Index corroborate the robustness of FORWIND. Spearman rank coefficients range between 0.27 and 0.48 (p value < 0.05). When recorded forest areas are rescaled based on their damage degree, correlation increases to 0.54. Wind-damaged growing stock volumes reported in national inventories (FORESTORM dataset) are generally higher than analogous metrics provided by FORWIND in combination with satellite-based biomass and country-scale statistics of growing stock volume. The potential of FORWIND is explored for a range of challenging topics and scientific fields, including scaling relations of wind damage, forest vulnerability modelling, remote sensing monitoring of forest disturbance, representation of uprooting and breakage of trees in large-scale land surface models, and hydrogeological risks following wind damage. Overall, FORWIND represents an essential and open-access spatial source that can be used to improve the understanding, detection and prediction of wind disturbances and the consequent impacts on forest ecosystems and the land-atmosphere system. Data sharing is encouraged in order to continuously update and improve FORWIND.

Published in

Earth System Science Data

2020, volume: 12, number: 1, pages: 257-276

Authors' information

Forzieri, Giovanni
Joint Research Centre, European Commission (JRC)
Pecchi, Matteo
University of Florence
Pecchi, Matteo
Joint Res Ctr
Girardello, Marco
Joint Research Centre, European Commission (JRC)
Mauri, Achille
Joint Research Centre, European Commission (JRC)
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Forest Ecology and Management
Nikolov, Christo
Forest Res Inst Zvolen
Rüetschi, Marius
Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research (WSL)
Gardiner, Barry
National Institute of Agricultural Research (INRA)
Gardiner, Barry
EFI Planted Forests Facil
Tomastik, Julian
Technical University in Zvolen
Small, David
University of Zurich
Nistor, Constantin
University of Bucharest
Jonikavicius, Donatas
Vytautas Magnus University
Spinoni, Jonathan
Joint Research Centre, European Commission (JRC)
Feyen, Luc
Joint Research Centre, European Commission (JRC)
Giannetti, Francesca
University of Florence
Comino, Rinaldo
Regione Autonoma Friuli Venezia Giulia
Comino, Rinaldo
Direz Cent Risorse Agr Forestali and Ittiche
Wolynski, Alessandro
Prov Autonoma Trento
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Sustainable Development Goals

SDG15 Life on land
SDG13 Climate action

UKÄ Subject classification

Forest Science
Meteorology and Atmospheric Sciences

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