Carbon dynamics of Western North American boreal forests in response to stand-replacing disturbances

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  • Ling Yu
  • Lei Fan
  • Philippe Ciais
  • Stephen Sitch
  • Fensholt, Rasmus
  • Xiangming Xiao
  • Wenping Yuan
  • Jingming Chen
  • Yingtong Zhang
  • Xiaocui Wu
  • Yuanwei Qin
  • Mingguo Ma
  • Zhongbing Chang
  • Mengjia Wang
  • Kai Yan
  • Lisheng Song
  • Jean-Pierre Wigneron

North American boreal forests are known to be an important carbon pool in boreal ecosystems, but have experienced extensive tree mortality and carbon loss due to multiple agents of stand-replacing disturbances in recent decades. However, the impacts of these stand-replacing disturbances on forest dynamics are still unknown. We used a recently developed remote-sensing based stand-replacing disturbance product, coupled with aboveground biomass (AGB), gross primary productivity (GPP) and leaf area index (LAI) datasets to estimate the impacts of stand-replacing disturbances (e.g., fires, logging and insect outbreaks) on the carbon balance of western North American boreal forests during 2000–2012. Our results showed that fire, logging and insect outbreaks resulted in AGB losses of 23.4, 16.6, and 4.7 Tg/yr, respectively. In the post-disturbance periods, AGB did not recover to its pre-disturbed levels in the 10th year, which is longer than the recovery time of GPP and LAI. Furthermore, the losses of AGB, GPP and LAI in fire events were the dominant factors for forest recovery after stand-replacing fire. Vapor Pressure Deficit (VPD), soil clay content, temperature and precipitation were the important factors for forest recovery after stand-replacing insect outbreaks and stand-replacing logging. When removing the impact of environmental factors, our results showed a smaller magnitude of AGB, GPP and LAI loss relative to the results including these factors, although similar recovery trajectories were observed among the two results. The results have important implications for understanding the effects of stand-replacing disturbances on the carbon dynamics of boreal forests, which is required to adopt effective forest management strategies after disturbance.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103410
JournalInternational Journal of Applied Earth Observation and Geoinformation
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Author(s)

    Research areas

  • Boreal forest, Carbon balance, Fire, Insect outbreak, Logging

ID: 360602102