IAB Research Project Description

Assessing Impact of Fire & Insects Disturbance on the Terrestrial Carbon Budgets of Forested Areas in Canada, Alaska and Western U.S.

Credit: Courtesy of Merritt Turetskey/MSU

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The goal of this project is to analyze the impacts of disturbances from insects and fire on the terrestrial carbon budget for the forested ecoregions of Canada, Alaska and the western United States.

Our research addresses NASA interest in regional scale studies of the carbon cycle and specifically focuses on carbon cycling in high northern latitude regions.

Our research objectives are to: (1) Develop a consistent bottom-up methodology to estimate carbon consumed during fires; (2) modify a process-based dynamic vegetation/biogeochemistry model to more accurately depict fuel consumption during fires, mortality from fires and insect disturbance, effects of climate and insects on net primary production, and forest succession as a function of disturbance type and severity; and (3) assess the effects of fire/insect disturbance on terrestrial carbon cycling in the boreal and western temperate forests of North American using different modeling approaches. These objectives will be met using satellite-derived information on the spatial and temporal characteristics of disturbance and recovery after disturbance as inputs for the Terrestrial Ecosystem Model (TEM). We will update TEM to more accurately depict fuel consumptions in the forest types found in the study region, to account for tree mortality and variations in net primary productivity (NPP) induced by fire and insects, and to reflect variations in post-fire successions that are caused by disturbance severity. We will then use TEM to assess the impacts of disturbance in forests on terrestrial carbon cycling.

Project Funding

1 Apr 2008 – 31 Mar 2011
IAB Proposal #08-057
UAF Grant #G4782
IAB Project #133

Media Contact

Marie Thoms
Communications/Web Manager
Institute of Arctic Biology
302A Irving I
University of Alaska Fairbanks
Fairbanks, AK 99775-7000
email: methoms@alaska.edu
phone: 907.474.7412