Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-2022-364
https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-2022-364
 
29 Sep 2022
29 Sep 2022
Status: this preprint is open for discussion.

Burned Area and Carbon Emissions Across Northwestern Boreal North America from 2001–2019

Stefano Potter1, Sol Cooperdock1,2, Sander Veraverbeke3, Xanthe Walker4, Michelle C. Mack4, Scott J. Goetz5, Jennifer Baltzer6, Laura Bourgeau-Chavez7, Arden Burrell1, Catherine Dieleman8, Nancy French7, Stijn Hantson9, Elizabeth E. Hoy10, Liza Jenkins7, Jill F. Johnstone11, Evan S. Kane12, Susan M. Natali1, James T. Randerson13, Merritt R. Turetsky14, Ellen Whitman15, Elizabeth Wiggins16, and Brendan M. Rogers1 Stefano Potter et al.
  • 1Woodwell Climate Research Center, Falmouth, MA, 02540 USA
  • 2University of California, Los Angeles, CA, 90095 USA
  • 3Faculty of Science, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  • 4Center for Ecosystem Science and Society, Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, AZ, 86011 USA
  • 5School of Informatics, Computing, and Cyber Systems, Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, AZ, 86011 USA
  • 6Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, ON, Canada
  • 7Michigan Tech Research Institute, Ann Arbor, MI, 48105 USA
  • 8University of Guelph, Guelph, ON, Canada
  • 9Universidad del Rosario, Bogotá, Cundinamarca, Colombia
  • 10NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD, 20771 USA
  • 11UAF: Institute of Arctic Biology, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Fairbanks, AK, 99775 USA
  • 12Michigan Tech University, Houghton, MI, 49931 USA
  • 13Department of Earth System Science, University of California, Irvine, CA, 92697 USA
  • 14Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research, University of Colorado, Boulder CO, 80309 USA
  • 15Natural Resources Canada, Canadian Forest Service, Northern Forestry Centre, Edmonton, AB, Canada
  • 16NASA Langely Research Center, Hampton, VA, 23666 USA

Abstract. Fire is the dominant disturbance agent in Alaskan and Canadian boreal ecosystems and releases large amounts of carbon into the atmosphere. Burned area and carbon emissions have been increasing with climate change, which have the potential to alter the carbon balance and shift the region from a historic sink to a source. It is therefore critically important to track the spatiotemporal changes in burned area and fire carbon emissions over time. Here we developed a new burned area detection algorithm between 2001–2019 across Alaska and Canada at 500 meters (m) resolution that utilizes finer-scale 30 m Landsat imagery to account for land cover unsuitable for burning. This method strictly balances omission and commission errors at 500 m to derive accurate landscape- and regional-scale burned area estimates. Using this new burned area product, we developed statistical models to predict burn depth and carbon combustion for the same period within the NASA Arctic-Boreal Vulnerability Experiment (ABoVE) core and extended domain. Statistical models were constrained using a database of field observations across the domain and were related to a variety of response variables including remotely-sensed indicators of fire severity, fire weather indices, local climate, soils, and topographic indicators. The burn depth and aboveground combustion models performed best, with poorer performance for belowground combustion. We estimate 2.37 million hectares (Mha) burned annually between 2001–2019 over the ABoVE domain (2.87 Mha across all of Alaska and Canada), emitting 79.3 +/- 27.96 (+/- 1 standard deviation) Teragrams of carbon (C) per year, with a mean combustion rate of 3.13 +/- 1.17 kilograms C m-2. Mean combustion and burn depth displayed a general gradient of higher severity in the northwestern portion of the domain to lower severity in the south and east. We also found larger fire years and later season burning were generally associated with greater mean combustion. Our estimates are generally consistent with previous efforts to quantify burned area, fire carbon emissions, and their drivers in regions within boreal North America; however, we generally estimate higher burned area and carbon emissions due to our use of Landsat imagery, greater availability of field observations, and improvements in modeling. The burned area and combustion data sets described here (the ABoVE Fire Emissions Database, or ABoVE-FED) can be used for local to continental-scale applications of boreal fire science.

Stefano Potter et al.

Status: open (extended)

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Stefano Potter et al.

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Short summary
Here we developed a new burned area detection algorithm between 2001–2019 across Alaska and Canada at 500 m resolution. We estimate 2.37 million hectares burned annually between 2001–2019 over the domain emitting 79.3 Tg C per year, with a mean combustion rate of 3.13 kg C m-2. We found larger fire years were generally associated with greater mean combustion. The burned area and combustion data sets described here can be used for local to continental-scale applications of boreal fire science.