Collaborative Research: Determining the Vulnerability and Resilience of Boreal Forests and Shrubs across Northwestern North America
The importance of Boreal and Arctic landscapes is recognized by the scientific community as an important area of research. The overarching theory to be tested in this grant is that the current controls over vegetation growth are not operating as they have been in the past. The investigators have at hand a detailed network of ground measurements of tree-ring data collected across a range of Boreal and Arctic forests and shrublands sites in Alaska and adjacent Canada. This data will be compared with satellite based remote sensing proxies of vegetation productivity. The work is by and large an analysis and comparison of two independent methods for assessing vegetation growth variability in Arctic ecosystems. This project will contribute to the education of the general public (e.g. annual open house exhibits, websites, blogs from the field), and will partially fund a post-doctoral researcher who will have the opportunity to expand their scientific experience and knowledge of this topic. This work will focus on Boreal and Arctic forests and shrublands across Alaska and adjacent Canada, regions that are experiencing some of the most rapid warming on the globe today. Satellite observations have revealed significant vegetation productivity trends (both greening and browning) of vegetation at high northern latitudes, with distinct differences between North America and northern Eurasia biomes and between tundra and boreal regions. At the same time, some observations show that the strong correlation between northern tree growth and temperature appears to be weakening in recent decades. The overarching theory to be tested in this project is that the current controls over vegetation growth are not operating as they have been in the past. The investigators have at hand a detailed network of in situ ground measurements of tree-ring data collected from across this region. This data will be compared with remote sensing proxies of vegetation productivity (from satellite NDVI), across a range of Boreal and Arctic forests and shrublands sites in Alaska and adjacent Canada. The work will include one year of field data in regions of high priority where the investigators will extract up to date tree ring cores for comparison with recent air temperature and remote sensing records.