The changing effects of Alaska’s boreal forests on the climate system

Canadian Journal of Forest Research
By: , and 

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Abstract

In the boreal forests of Alaska, recent changes in climate have influenced the exchange of trace gases, water, and energy between these forests and the atmosphere. These changes in the structure and function of boreal forests can then feed back to impact regional and global climates. In this manuscript, we examine the type and magnitude of the climate feedbacks from boreal forests in Alaska. Research generally suggests that the net effect of a warming climate is a positive regional feedback to warming. Currently, the primary positive climate feedbacks are likely related to decreases in surface albedo due to decreases in snow cover. Fewer negative feedbacks have been identified, and they may not be large enough to counterbalance the large positive feedbacks. These positive feedbacks are most pronounced at the regional scale and reduce the resilience of the boreal vegetation – climate system by amplifying the rate of regional warming. Given the recent warming in this region, the large variety of associated mechanisms that can alter terrestrial ecosystems and influence the climate system, and a reduction in the boreal forest resilience, there is a strong need to continue to quantify and evaluate the feedback pathways.

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Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title The changing effects of Alaska’s boreal forests on the climate system
Series title Canadian Journal of Forest Research
DOI 10.1139/X09-209
Volume 40
Issue 7
Year Published 2010
Language English
Publisher NRC Research Press
Contributing office(s) Coop Res Unit Leetown
Description 11 p.
First page 1336
Last page 1346
Country United States
State Alaska
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N