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Fire and Climate

Through long-term studies of fire cycles and their links to climate, BNZ scientists have documented an increase in fire severity brought on by climate warming that will likely shift the Alaskan boreal forest from a spruce- to a broadleaf-dominated landscape.

Johnstone, J. F., F. S. I. Chapin, T. N. Hollingsworth, M. Mack, V. E. Romanovsky, and M. Turetsky. 2010a. Fire, climate change, and forest resilience in interior Alaska. Canadian Journal of Forest Research 40:1302-1312.
Johnstone, J. F., T. N. Hollingsworth, F. S. Chapin III, and M. C. Mack. 2010b. Changes in fire regime break the legacy lock on successional trajectories in Alaskan boreal forest. Global Change Biology 16:1281-1295.
Randerson, J. T., H. Liu, M. G. Flanner, S. D. Chambers, Y. Jin, P. G. Hess, G. Pfister, M. C. Mack, K. K. Treseder, L. R. Welp, F. S. I. Chapin, J. W. Harden, M. L. Goulden, E. Lyons, J. C. Neff, E. A. G. Schuur, and C. S. Zender. 2006. The impact of boreal forest fire on climate warming. Science 314:1130-1132.
Dr. Jill Johnstone
Large fires in the boreal forests of Alaska may stimulate transitions from black spruce (see the patch of unburned trees in the foreground) to a landscape matrix dominated by deciduous tree species. Photo taken near the Caribou Poker Creek Research Watershed of the Bonanza Creek LTER site.
J. Johnstone
Output from a boosted regression tree model showing the variables most important in predicting the proportional dominance of black spruce in post-fire regenerating stands. Fire severity, measured by the Composite Burn Index (CBI), shows the strongest effects in determining whether burned black spruce stands will recover to be dominated by spruce (low severity) or deciduous species (high severity). Stand age and site moisture also have important effects on the dominance of spruce in the post-fire regenerating forests.
Johnstone, J. F., F. S. I. Chapin, T. N. Hollingsworth, M. Mack, V. E. Romanovsky, and M. Turetsky. 2010a. Fire, climate change, and forest resilience in interior Alaska. Canadian Journal of Forest Research 40:1302-1312.

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