Related Research Areas
Carbon Cycle & Ecosystems

One of the major uncertainties in more accurately assessing the role of boreal fires on atmospheric trace gas concentrations is our poor understanding of how fire influences more poorly drained ecosystems such as peatlands. Boreal peatlands store tremendous reservoirs of soil carbon that are likely to become increasingly vulnerable to fire as climate change lowers water tables and exposes C-rich peat to burning. The overall goal of the proposed research project is to develop an understanding of how interactions between climate, surface hydrology and fire regime impact ecosystem processes and carbon cycling in boreal peatlands. To address this overall goal, we will integrate observations from field studies and satellite imagery with carbon cycle models to address the following objectives: 1) Assess the spatial and temporal controls on peatland burned area; 2) Determine how interactions between climate, vegetation, and surface moisture dynamics control variations in fire severity and vulnerability to deep peat burning; 3) Assess changes in post-fire hydrology and vegetation in peatlands; and 4) Use the enhanced understanding of the interaction of climatic and hydrologic factors that control the vulnerability of these ecosystems to burning to improve C cycling predictions. The proposed project directly addresses subelement 3 of NASA ROSES 2008 Terrestrial Ecology Program research announcement by integrating field campaigns, remote sensing and C cycle models to enhance our understanding of ecosystem functioning and C cycle dynamics on one of the largest terrestrial reservoirs of C in the Northern Hemisphere; high latitude boreal peatland ecosystems. The interaction of hydrology, climate and wildfire on the structure and function of peatlands largely has, to date, received a limited amount of systematic study. The proposed study is designed to better understand these processes and interactions and to develop remote sensing methods to monitor key parameters for scaling in situ observations to regional scales.

Project PI: Laura Bourgeau-Chavez/Michigan Tech Research Institute

Michigan Tech Research Institute 3600 Green Ct. Suite 100 Ann Arbor MI 48105 USA

Phone: 734-913-6873



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Started: Aug 10, 2010

Last Activity: Mar 14, 2011


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