Research Highlight: Influence of tree species on continental differences in boreal fires and climate feedbacks

A recent paper in Nature Geoscience assessed ecosystem responses to fire disturbance in boreal forests of North America and Eurasia. Using remote sensing imagery, climate reanalysis data, and forest inventories, the authors analyzed fire intensity and tree mortality across boreal forests on both continents. North America experiences a higher number of high-intensity crown fires, while Eurasian fires are more commonly low-intensity surface fires which cause lower tree mortality. Since these regions experience similar fire weather conditions, these differences in wildfire type were attribute to differences in the dominant species, particularly the prevalence of crown fire-adapted traits in North American boreal trees. The authors stress the importance of considering species-level traits and their impact on fire disturbance in global evaluations of the impacts of fire on climate and vegetation.

Full citation: Rogers, BM, AJ Soja, ML Goulden, JT Randerson (2015) Influence of tree species on continental differences in boreal fires and climate feedbacks. Nature Geoscience, 8:228-234.

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