Assessing the impacts of topographic and climatic factors on radial growth of major forest forming tree species of South Korea

Moonil Kim, Woo Kyun Lee, Yowhan Son, Somin Yoo, Go Mee Choi, Dong Jun Chung

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


Although the annual diameter growth of trees is vital for assessing site suitability in terms of potential timber yield, the effects of climatic and topographic factors on this variable are poorly understood. The main objective of this study was to develop a tree-level radial growth model incorporating topographic and climatic factors for four major temperate tree species [red pine (Pinus densiflora), oak (Quercus spp.), Japanese larch (Larix kaempferi), and Korean pine (Pinus koraiensis)] in South Korea. The model was developed and then validated using increment cores sampled from permanent plots in the Korean National Forest Inventory country wide. The Standard Growth (SG) of each increment core, which eliminated the effect of tree age on radial growth, was derived using a SG model. Spatial autocorrelation was detected for the SGs of every species, but not for the original radial growth data. The results showed that using the SG model to standardize radial growth for age was successful for explaining the impact of topographic and climatic factors on radial growth. The influence of climatic (warmth index and precipitation effectiveness index) and topographic (topographic wetness index) factors on the SG of each species was evaluated by the estimated SG (eSG) model. Results show that for all species each variable was correlated to SG. The mean R2 of the final radial growth model for red pine, oak, Japanese larch, and Korean pine during 2001–2009 were estimated to be 0.71, 0.73, 0.67, and 0.65, respectively. In addition, for every tree species the time sequence of estimated annual radial growth exhibited similar characteristics to that of the observed annual radial growth on an individual tree scale. Thus, this growth model can contribute to an understanding of the impacts of topographic and climatic factors on tree radial growth and predict the annual growth changes of major tree species in South Korea, given climate change.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)269-279
Number of pages11
JournalForest Ecology and Management
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Nov 15

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Special thanks to the Korea Forest Service and Korea Forest Inventory Center for providing the National Forest Inventory data set. This area of research is supported by the Korea Ministry of Environment under the “Climate Change Correspondence Program” (Project Number: 2014001310008).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017


  • Climate change
  • National forest inventory
  • Precipitation effectiveness index
  • Radial growth
  • Topographic wetness index
  • Warmth index

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Forestry
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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