Free Newsletters - Space News - Defense Alert - Environment Report - Energy Monitor
. Earth Science News .




FIRE STORM
Washington's forests will lose stored carbon as area burned by wildfire increases
by Staff Writers
Portland OR (SPX) Jul 25, 2012


A July 2012 PNW Research Station study explored how carbon dynamics in Washington State may be altered by more-frequent wildfires, triggered by a warming climate. The study looked at the effects of greater area burned on both live biomass and nonliving biomass, such as the dead standing trees and downed wood shown here. Credit: Tom Iraci, US Forest Service.

Forests in the Pacific Northwest store more carbon than any other region in the United States, but our warming climate may undermine their storage potential. A new study conducted by the U.S. Forest Service's Pacific Northwest Research Station and the Climate Impacts Group at the University of Washington has found that, by 2040, parts of Washington State could lose as much as a third of their carbon stores, as an increasing area of the state's forests is projected to be burned by wildfire.

The study-published in the July 2012 issue of the journal Ecological Applications-is the first to use statistical models and publicly available Forest Inventory and Analysis data to estimate the effects of a warming climate on carbon storage and fluxes on Washington's forests.

"When considering the use of forests to store carbon, it will be critical to consider the increasing risk of wildfire," said Crystal Raymond, a research biologist based at the station's Pacific Wildland Fire Sciences Laboratory and lead author of the study. "Especially in the West, where climate-induced changes in fire are expected to be a key agent of change."

Trees remove and sequester carbon from the atmosphere, in the form of carbon dioxide, acting as important stores, or "sinks," of carbon that help to offset its accumulation in the atmosphere. When trees and other woody material in the forest are burned by fire, they release carbon back to the atmosphere, mostly as carbon dioxide, where it may once again act as a greenhouse gas that promotes warming.

This land-atmosphere exchange of carbon is increasingly of interest to land managers seeking ways to actively manage forests to store carbon and help mitigate greenhouse gases.

To explore what effect climate-driven changes in wildfire might have on the ability of Washington's forests to act as carbon sinks, Raymond and station research ecologist Don McKenzie used a novel approach.

They combined published forest-inventory data, fire-history data, and statistical models of area burned to estimate historical and future carbon carrying capacity of three regions in Washington-the Western Cascades, the Eastern Cascades, and the Okanogan Highlands-based on potential forest productivity and projections of 21st century area burned.

"Forests on both the eastern and western slopes of the Cascade Range will lose carbon stored in live biomass because area burned across the state is expected to increase," Raymond said. "Even small increases in area burned can have large consequences for carbon stored in living and dead biomass."

The researchers looked at live biomass, which includes living trees and vegetation, as well as nonliving biomass in the form of coarse woody debris, which includes dead standing trees and downed logs. Both contribute to the carbon cycle, but in different ways-living biomass removes carbon from the atmosphere as vegetation grows, and coarse woody debris releases carbon over time as the material decomposes.

Raymond and McKenzie projected forests of the Western Cascades to be most sensitive to climate-driven increases in fire, losing anywhere from 24 to 37 percent of their live biomass and from 15 to 25 percent of their coarse woody debris biomass by 2040. These forests store significant carbon and typically burn with high severity, killing many trees and consuming coarse woody debris.

On the other side of the mountains, the researchers also projected a decrease in live biomass by 2040-of anywhere between 17 and 26 percent in the Eastern Cascades and in the Okanogan Highlands-but no change in coarse woody debris biomass, or possibly even an increase, because coarse woody debris biomass increases as trees are killed by fire and subsequent low-severity fires burn only a small portion of it.

"Changes in fire regimes in a warming climate can limit our potential to use forests in the Pacific Northwest to store additional carbon and to reduce atmospheric carbon dioxide," Raymond said.

Understanding the possible effects of more area burned by fire can help managers decide whether forests need to be actively managed for their fire potential to minimize carbon loss.

To read more about the study, click here

.


Related Links
USDA Forest Service - Pacific Northwest Research Station
Forest and Wild Fires - News, Science and Technology






Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle




Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News





FIRE STORM
Over 1,500 tourists evacuated as fires rage in Croatia
Zagreb (AFP) July 23, 2012
A firefighter died and 1,500 tourists were evacuated after forest fires fanned by strong winds broke out on Croatia's Adriatic coast Monday, with the interior minister warning of a "very difficult" scenario. "The situation is very difficult ... we are doing everything possible to protect people's lives and property," Interior Minister Ranko Ostojic told commercial Nova television, as the fir ... read more


FIRE STORM
In Haiti, anger over slum eviction plans

Japan probes claim workers' radiation levels faked

Japan sets compensation for Fukushima evacuees

Japan firm 'told workers to lie about radiation dose'

FIRE STORM
Cassidian announces passive radar system

Print newspapers alive and kicking in Brazil: editors

Apple profit jumps to $8.8 bn, but below forecasts

GMV Awarded Contract for MEASAT-3b Communications Satellite Control Center

FIRE STORM
Work progresses on Mekong dam?

Artificial jellyfish swims in a heartbeat

Could volcanic eruptions in the south-west Pacific save the Great Barrier Reef?

WWF warns against Croatia, Bosnia hydro plant plans

FIRE STORM
Tropical plankton invade Arctic waters

Satellites see Unprecedented Greenland Ice Sheet Melt

Polar bear evolution tracked climate change

Study: Himalayan glacial melt accelerating

FIRE STORM
Super Bags to thwart rice wastage now available to Filipino farmers

Evolution highly predictable for insects eating toxic plants

Lighting up the plant hormone 'command system'

New method for associating genetic variation with crop traits

FIRE STORM
6.4-magnitude quake hits Indonesia's Sumatra: USGS

China censors coverage of deadly Beijing floods

Scores injured as typhoon lashes Hong Kong

Russia arrests officials after deadly floods

FIRE STORM
Mozambique told to tackle crime

New sapphire find sends panners into Madagascar lemur park

Flooding in central Nigeria's Jos kills at least 35

US suspends aid to Rwanda amid DR Congo violence

FIRE STORM
Kissenger: virtual lips for long-distance lovers

Oregon's Paisley Caves as old as Clovis sites - but not Clovis

Unique Neandertal arm morphology due to scraping, not spearing

Neanderthals at El Sidron, Northern Spain, had knowledge of plants' healing qualities




The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement