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Alaskas forest fires are shifting the regions carbon balancesometimes for the better

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Channel: Science Magazine
Categories: Environmental   |   Science  
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Its no secret that warming temperatures are transforming landscapes in extreme northern regions. In Alaska, where wildfires have burned through many old-growth spruce forests in the past half decade, deciduous treessuch as aspen and birchare starting to take over. But little is known about the impact these changes will have on how much carbon the forests release and store.

To find out, researchers trudged through the Alaskan taiga, seeking out wildfire sites where spruce once dominated. They mined these sites for information on carbon and nitrogen stores and forest turnover over time. What they found surprised them: In the long run, their estimates suggest that intensifying heat and more wildfires may lead to more carbon sequestration in Alaskan forests, they report today in Science. Its impossible to know for sure that the flames will subside, but it's a bit of good news as the fires burn out the old growth and bring in the new.

Read the research: https://scim.ag/3soUc4e

Forest illustration credit: Victor O. Leshyk/Center for Ecosystem Science and Society/Northern Arizona University

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