Friday, July 18, 2008

SNRAS scientists' work featured on Science News

Studies by Glenn Juday, Martin Wilmking, and other scientists on the interactions of tree growth, forest ecology, and climate change in northern regions have been featured in a recent article by Janet Raloff in Science News, "Forest Invades Tundra…and the new tenants could aggravate global warming." The article provides useful references to peer-reviewed journal articles and other publications by forest ecologists and climatologists, including Chapter 14 (PDF) of the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment, to which many SNRAS scientists contributed or consulted on. Raloff writes,
Ecologists and climatologists are concerned because emerging forest data suggest that the albedo, or reflectivity, of large regions across the Arctic will change....The threat of tundra displacement by trees has largely escaped notice, Juday says. And indeed, boreal forest advances in Alaska have been modest, at best. One reason: Seeds don’t normally travel far in the Arctic, and even when they land on tundra, its dense mats resist implantation.
Except, as Raloff points out, when the tundra surface has been disturbed by fire, shrubbification, or other intrusion.

Raloff's article brings together the work of many scientists across the United States, Canada, and Europe in a succinct, readable piece that describes different aspects of these changes occuring in tree posturing and ecosystem transformation, and what it could mean for soil warming and carbon emission.

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