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The boreal forest of interior Alaska contains approximately 60 million burnable hectares. Fire is the dominant disturbance mechanism and statistical modeling has shown that for the period 1950-2003 roughly 80% of the inter-annual variability in the logarithm of area burned in Alaska is explained by monthly weather and teleconnection indices. A statistical model of fire-weather relationships was coupled with a historical climatic and area burned dataset to reconstruct annual area burned in Alaska for the period 1860-2000. This reconstruction was used in conjunction with a historical fire record to calibrate a spatially explicit cellular automata model (ALFRESCO) that simulates fire and successional dynamics across interior Alaska. Using both simulated and field data, the following hypotheses were tested: 1) flammability of forest vegetation is a function of time-since last fire; 2) anthropogenic disturbance has a significant impact on tree-age distributions; and 3) the mean and variance of the stand age distribution of the Alaskan boreal forest are stationary. This work shows that there is little evidence for changes in flammability as a function of time since last fire for the first 30 years after fire. Additionally, anthropogenic disturbance in the early 1900's has left a distinct, yet localized impact on stand age distributions. Finally, it was concluded that significant temporal trends in both the mean and variance of the stand age distribution are an intrinsic property of the Alaskan boreal forest. Collectively, these results suggest that the strong link between climate and fire drives non-stationarity of stand age distributions through time. This non-stationarity precludes distributional modeling but enables simulation-based depiction of stand age dynamics across the interior Alaskan boreal forest through time.

Cataloging Information

Climate    Fire Effects    Fire History    Models    Weather
  • Alaskan boreal forest
  • area burned
  • dynamic landscape fire succession model
  • historical weather data
  • stand age dynamics
Record Maintained By: FRAMES Staff (
Record Last Modified:
FRAMES Record Number: 7200