SNAP provides several platforms for looking at historic climate trends and climate projections in Alaska and western Canada:
1. Downloadable datasets for historic climate data and projected climate data (temperature and precipitation).
2. Interactive map - provides climate projections for Alaska and western Canada for each decade through 2100. User can choose what variables, time periods, seasonal averages, and emissions scenarios they’d like to view.
SNAP provides climate projections (temperature and precipitation) for Alaska and western Canada, using an ensemble of climate models (GCMs) and 3 emissions scenarios. Information is presented in a variety of formats.
U.S. forests play a large role in offsetting carbon emissions, about 20 % of the U.S. fossil fuel carbon output. If a forest replaces itself after a disturbance like fire, then there is no long-term loss of carbon.
Western Wildland Environmental Threat Assessment Center
Three major biomes intersect in the south-central region of Alaska: the western edge of the coastal rainforest, the southern edge of the boreal forest, and the eastern edge of the mostly treeless tundra and shrub ecosystems of southwest Alaska. Predictions of climate change responses for these ecosystems vary widely and substantial vegetation changes in this area will have large impacts on the area economy. This study will evaluate tree species' vulnerability to climate change in this area of AK.
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Vulnerability assessments for individual tree species in south-central Alaska will be created based on reviews of individual species' biophysical limitations and the best available information on their current regeneration, growth and mortality. Current distributions and migration potentials will be reported and synthesized. Hypotheses for future distributions (and mechanisms of dispersal) of tree species will be developed using future climate scenarios and the synthesized information on biophysical limitations. A small scale pilot study of mountain hemlock along the rainforest to boreal gradient on the Kenai Peninsula will be used to evaluate historic growth (using tree-rings). The pilot study will be designed to provide a foundation for a larger project to more fully test future distribution hypothesis and assess the potential of assisted migration of vulnerable tree species.
In the spring of 2012, the Chugach National Forest began a climate vulnerability assessment that provided a good outlet for presenting results from this project on potential migration of tree species in the south-central Alaska region. Tara Barrett and Robert Pattison participated in the workshop for this assessment at the University of Alaska Anchorage and worked with other participants to outline a chapter in the assessment focused on vegetation change in relation to climate in south-central Alaska. Researchers created a climate envelope model of the three spruce species in the region (Picea sitchensis, Picea glauca, and Picea mariana) and provided results of the model to the vegetation/wildlife group both in a written summary and in an informal presentation. A literature review on migration potential is near completion.
Bonanza Creek Long-Term Ecological Research Program, Marine Biological Laboratory, University of Alaska Fairbanks, University of Florida, USDI Bureau of Land Management Alaska Fire Service
FS Research Station(s):
Pacific Northwest Research Station
Arctic tundra stores large amounts of carbon in cool wet soil that is hundreds to thousands of years old. Fire has been largely absent from this biome for thousands of years, but its frequency and extent are increasing, probably in response to climate warming. The Anaktuvuk River Fire in 2007 burned 645 square miles of Alaska’s Arctic slope, making it the largest fire on record for the tundra biome and doubling the cumulative area burned since 1950. Research on this fire is being used to implement measurement techniques that estimate carbon loss in tundra areas. It is also being used by scientists who are initiating studies on the effect of fire disturbance on tree migration into the Arctic.