Navigation Links
Washington's forests will lose stored carbon as area burned by wildfire increases
Date:7/24/2012

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 studypublished in the July 2012 issue of the journal Ecological Applicationsis 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 Washingtonthe Western Cascades, the Eastern Cascades, and the Okanogan Highlandsbased 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 waysliving 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 2040of anywhere between 17 and 26 percent in the Eastern Cascades and in the Okanogan Highlandsbut 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.


'/>"/>
Contact: Yasmeen Sands
ysands@fs.fed.us
360-753-7716
USDA Forest Service - Pacific Northwest Research Station
Source:Eurekalert  

Related biology news :

1. Hidden secrets in the worlds most northerly rainforests
2. NUS launches new book on Singapores rainforests and new free digital nature archive
3. Native plant restoration not enough to maintain tropical dry forests in Hawaii
4. Restoring streamside forests helps songbirds survive the winter in Californias Central Valley
5. Landsat sets the standard for maps of worlds forests
6. Seagrasses can store as much carbon as forests
7. Beetle-infested pine trees contribute more to air pollution and haze in forests
8. The absence of elephants and rhinoceroses reduces biodiversity in tropical forests
9. Bark beetle management and ecology in southern pine forests
10. Saving forests? Take a leaf from insurance industrys book
11. European grasslands challenge rainforests as the most species-rich spaces on Earth
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Washington's forests will lose stored carbon as area burned by wildfire increases
(Date:4/19/2017)... York , April 19, 2017 ... as its vendor landscape is marked by the presence ... market is however held by five major players - ... Together these companies accounted for nearly 61% of the ... the leading companies in the global military biometrics market ...
(Date:4/11/2017)... 11, 2017 Crossmatch®, a globally-recognized leader ... today announced that it has been awarded a ... Activity (IARPA) to develop next-generation Presentation Attack Detection ... "Innovation has been a driving force within Crossmatch ... allow us to innovate and develop new technologies ...
(Date:4/5/2017)... , April 5, 2017  The Allen Institute ... Allen Cell Explorer: a one-of-a-kind portal and dynamic digital ... 3D imaging data, the first application of deep learning ... human stem cell lines and a growing suite of ... platform for these and future publicly available resources created ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/23/2017)... USA, and CARDIFF, UK (PRWEB) , ... June 23, 2017 , ... ... (LANL), and Brian Lula, president of Physik Instrumente USA, have been selected as this ... and photonics . , The two have been invited along with other honorees to ...
(Date:6/23/2017)... ... June 23, 2017 , ... ... flying hobbyists, and the University Aviation Association (UAA), the unifying voice for collegiate ... Collegiate Challenge will encourage teamwork, competition, and success through a STEM-based education platform. ...
(Date:6/22/2017)... Colorado (PRWEB) , ... June 21, 2017 , ... ... RTP regional office in North Carolina, and engages Timothy Reinhardt to manage the ... of quality leadership at Pfizer Inc, with his most recent role as the ...
(Date:6/22/2017)... ... June 22, 2017 , ... AESKU.GROUP, an innovation ... Systeme & Technologien GmbH, thereby expanding its product portfolio to include allergy and ... urticaria, asthma, atopic eczema or a food allergy. Allergies are escalating to epidemic ...
Breaking Biology Technology: