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Big Climate-Driven Changes in Alaskan Forests Unfolding Now, How will Future Forests Look?

Big Climate-Driven Changes in Alaskan Forests Unfolding Now, How will Future Forests Look?


Alex Wierbinski's picture

By Alex Wierbinski - Posted on 17 October 2019

 

ALASKAN FORESTS & TREES in a RADICALLY WARMING WORLD

Climate Change Brings Forest Change
Climate Change in Alaska Brings Forest Change, Biomass changes by species over time, Arctic Boreal Vulnerability Experiment.
Biomass changes by species over time, Arctic Boreal Vulnerability Experiment.

 

Big Changes Unfolding Now

Warmer, Drier Climate Could Transform Alaskan Forests,
NASA Earth Observatory, October 17, 2019.

MAIN POINTS

A Very Different Future
"In a future with higher temperatures and other climate changes, Alaska’s boreal forests could look significantly different than they do now."

Major Changes Anticipated
"In a warmer future, the ratio of conifers to deciduous trees is likely to change, with aspen and birch trees increasing compared to black and white spruce."

High & Low Carbon Growth
"In both scenarios, the total biomass—the amount of plants and trees—decreased across the study area, though there were some different nuances by area."

Specific Changes
"...overall biomass decreases between 2000 and 2100 under the climate scenario with no greenhouse gas reduction, and the proportions of species also changes. The proportion of birches decreases steadily, while white spruce dominates the landscape until the end of the century."

Deciduous Advantage
“So with fires increasing and the climate getting drier, the landscape becomes better suited to the deciduous species that can move in and outcompete the spruce, which is slower-growing and stressed by drought.”

End of Conifers
"Boreal forest fires are expected to become more frequent and severe in a warmer, drier climate, and these fires also will play an important role in the proportion of which tree species grow. “Deciduous species can more easily regenerate on exposed soil. So when we have these combinations of more drying, more severe fires, and more exposed soil, the deciduous species will be able to colonize very quickly. Under past conditions, they would then be replaced by conifers. But under climate change, the conifers may die off, leaving a deciduous forest."

Crazy-Time Ahead
"Changing the number of deciduous forests in Alaska’s boreal region could have complex effects on the climate."

Major Feedback Ahead
"...melting permafrost will also release carbon into the atmosphere, acting as a positive feedback that contributes to warming. The loss of trees to fire or stress will mean biomass is lost and more carbon is put back into or left in the atmosphere. “ost of the carbon that is locked up in the boreal zone is in the soils. So when we have the shift from boggy, black spruce forest to drier, deciduous forest, we are releasing a lot of carbon into the atmosphere from the soils."

Uncertain Future
“We have all these interacting factors, and some are counteracting each other. It’s really an uncertain future.”

 

Boreal Forest Problems

Sept 2019
Massive Northern Forests at Risk

 

 

Forest Problems
Northern Forests

Oct 2019
Northern Forests in Deep Trouble

 

Oct 2019
High Sierra Forests: Plant Diversity a Casualty of High-Severity Wildfires

 

Dec 2017
Tree News: Our Forests are Fucked, We've Changed the Environment they need to Thrive

 

 

High Sierra Forest Mortality

Aug 2018
2018 Tree Mortality Mitigation: Feds To Remove Millions Of Dead-Dying Trees From California’s Forests

 

 

The Southwest

Dec 2018
Observing the Decline of the Doomed Forests in the Southwestern US

 

 

The Climate is Changing More Rapidly than Anyone Anticipated...

Recent Alaska Rapidly Warming links

 

 

Plant & Tree News & Reseach, Summer and Fall of 2019

News of Man & Nature, October 2019

 

 

 

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Alaska, climate change, global warming, effects, transform, change, composition, boreal forest, aspen, birch, deciduous, conifer, trees

 

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