Project


Title

Interactions Among Climate, Fire and Vegetation in the Alaskan Boreal Forest
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Cataloging Information

Keyword(s):
  • Alaskan boreal forest
  • burn severity
  • climate change
  • flammability
  • global warming
  • human impacts
  • stand age distribution
  • vegetation
Region(s):
Record Maintained By:
Record Last Modified: March 4, 2016
FRAMES Record Number: 7194

Description

In order to assess the impact of forecast climate change on the structure and function of the Alaskan boreal forest, the interactions among climate, fire and vegetation need to be quantified. The results of this work demonstrate that monthly weather and teleconnection indices explain the majority of observed variability in annual area burned in Alaska from 1950-2003. Human impacts and fire-vegetation interactions likely account for a significant portion of the remaining variability. Analysis of stand age distributions indicate that anthropogenic disturbance in the early 1900's has left a distinct, yet localized impact. Additionally, remotely sensed burn severity data was analyzed to better understand interactions among fire, vegetation and topography. These results show a significant relationship between burn severity and vegetation type in flat landscapes but not in topographically complex landscapes, and collectively strengthen the argument that differential flammability of vegetation plays a significant role in fire-vegetation interactions. These results were used to calibrate a model of interactions among weather, fire and vegetation. The model generates spatially explicit maps of simulated stand ages at 1 km resolution across interior Alaska, and output was validated using observed stand age distributions. Analysis of simulation output suggests that significant temporal variability of both the mean and variance of the stand age distribution is an intrinsic property of the stand age distributions of the Alaskan boreal forest.