Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program: Alaska
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources

Alaska Project

Carbon responses along moisture gradients in Alaskan landscapes

July 2005 - June 2010


Participating Agencies

  • Geologic Division

The interaction of large wildfires with permafrost is of central concern because of longer growing seasons and increased drought. The investigators hypothesize that fire may act as a trigger to the rapid degradation of permafrost in Interior Alaska. How carbon responds to changing climate and fire will affect carbon dynamics will likely depend on interactions with soil moisture, which is quite variable in Alaskan landscapes. In this study they are assessing carbon reserves and their interaction with fire and permafrost along soil moisture gradients in Alaskan landscapes. The investigators are currently developing a new suite of ecosystem modeling tools which are capable of simulating the linkages between fire, permafrost degradation and ecosystem dynamics. These models require robust sets of data that can be used to parameterize these models as well as to test their limitations and utility. The main task to accomplish the above objective is to develop a set of physical (temperature, moisture, radiation) and biogeochemical (e.g. C flux and quality) data that will facilitate accurate models of C exchange in boreal landscapes.