Fire In the Arctic Landscape: Impacts, Interactions And Links To Global and Regional Environmental Change
Basic Project Information
The 2007 Anaktuvuk River (AR) fire created a unique opportunity to observe the response of a pristine tundra landscape to a major disturbance. The area burned is large enough (>1000 km2) that its impacts can be measured directly at multiple scales, from small plots, to small (first-order) catchments and hillslopes, to large (third-order) catchments, to the atmospheric boundary layer above the entire burn. As the burned area recovers over time, observations of changes in key ecosystem processes and in terrestrial and aquatic communities will afford insights into controls and interactions among system components that would not be possible from long-term observation of an undisturbed or unmanipulated tundra landscape. The AR fire also serves as a harbinger of future change in the arctic landscape and its interactions with the atmosphere, aquatic systems, and oceans as global climate continues to warm. It provides a standard of comparison with predictions of long-term response to disturbance and climate change, based on finer-scale, shorter-term experimental studies. Finally, because the area burned is so large, it provides an opportunity for measuring change at a scale that is directly relevant to large-area, Pan-arctic modeling and prediction. For all of these reasons, this project will strive to establish a long-term, multiscale, multidimensional program of observation, comparison, and analysis on the Anaktuvuk River fire. This will be done in a way that facilitates future, detailed process studies and long-term modeling and synthesis. The program will be sufficiently broadly-based to involve participation by a wide range of arctic researchers. Key components of the work include measurement of (1) surface C, water, and energy exchanges, (2) terrestrial organic matter, C, and element stocks, (3) terrestrial vegetation composition and structure, (4) lake and stream chemistry and water flow, (5) lake and stream community composition, and (6) evaluation of spectral reflectance measures of production, biomass, community composition, and burn impacts for use in scaling up to larger areas and for comparison with satellite- and airplane-based measures of reflectance.