Siberian tundra ecosystem vegetation and carbon stocks four decades after wildfire Academic Article uri icon


  • Tundra ecosystem fire regimes are intensifying with important implications for regional and global carbon (C) and energy dynamics. Although a substantial portion of the tundra biome is located in Russia, the vast majority of accessible studies describe North American tundra fires. Here we use field observations and high-resolution satellite remote sensing observations to describe the effects of wildfire on ecosystem C pools and vegetation communities four decades after fire for a tundra ecosystem in northeastern Siberia. Our analyses reveal no differences between soil physical properties and C pools in burned and unburned tundra, which we attribute to low combustion of organic soil associated with low-severity fire. Field and remote sensing data show no differences in aboveground C pools and vegetation communities indicating recovery to prefire conditions. These results are comparable to observations of ecosystem recovery in North American tundra. An assessment of literature data indicate that the average annual area burned in Russian tundra is an order of magnitude larger than that of Alaskan tundra, highlighting a crucial need to assess Russian tundra fire regimes in order to understand the current and future role of the biome wide fire regime in regional and global C and energy dynamics.

publication date

  • November 2014