Ecosystem responses to recent climate change and fire disturbance at northern high latitudes: observations and model results contrasting northern Eurasia and North America
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Vegetation composition at high latitudes plays a critical role in the climate and, in turn, is strongly affected by the climate. The increased frequency of fires expected as a result of climate warming at high latitudes will feedback positively to further warming by releasing carbon to the atmosphere, but will also feedback negatively by increasing the surface albedo. The net effect is complex because the severity of fire affects the trajectory of both carbon stocks and albedo change following a fire, and these are likely to differ between high latitude ecosystems in North America and northern Eurasia. Here we use growth trajectories, productivity trends and regional carbon fluxes to characterize these fire- and climate-driven changes.