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USGS - science for a changing world

Turetsky, Merritt R.

Climate change has increased the area affected by forest fires each year in boreal North America. Increases in burned area and fire frequency are expected to stimulate boreal carbon losses. However, the impact of wildfires on carbon emissions is also affected by the severity of burning. How climate change influences the severity of biomass burning has proved difficult to assess. Here, we examined the depth of ground-layer combustion in 178 sites dominated by black spruce in Alaska, using data collected from 31 fire events between 1983 and 2005. We show that the depth of burning increased as the fire season progressed when the annual area burned was small. However, deep burning occurred throughout the fire season...
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