Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Climate Change Threatens Siberian Forests

Date:
August 5, 2007
Source:
University of Leicester
Summary:
Catastrophic forest fire outbreaks in Siberia are happening more frequently because of climate change, new research suggests. In Central Siberia alone, fires have destroyed 38 000 square kilometers in the extreme fire year of 2003. In that year the smoke plumes were so huge that they caused air pollution as far as in the United States. An international team of scientists believes that Siberian fires are influenced by climate change.

Cedar pines at the Khamar-Daban mountain range near Lake Baikal in Siberia, Russia.
Credit: iStockphoto

Catastrophic forest fire outbreaks in Siberia are happening more frequently because of climate change, new research suggests.

In Central Siberia alone, fires have destroyed 38 000 km2 in the extreme fire year of 2003. In that year the smoke plumes were so huge that they caused air pollution as far as in the United States. An international team of scientists believes that Siberian fires are influenced by climate change. The study was led by the Professor Heiko Balzter of the Department of Geography at the University of Leicester.

Professor Balzter said "Last century a typical forest in Siberia had about 100 years after a fire to recover before it burned again. But new observations by Russian scientist Dr Kharuk have shown that fire now returns more frequently, about every 65 years. At the same time annual temperatures in Siberia have risen by almost two degrees Celsius, about twice as fast as the global average. And since 1990 the warming of Siberia has become even faster than before."

Global warming leads to warmer springs and causes plants to green up earlier. This has already been observed for the UK. Over Russia the scientists found similar trends towards an earlier spring.

The scientists observed 18 years of satellite images of the region, and estimated the timing of the onset and end of the growing season, when the snow has melted and the plants take up carbon from the air during plant growth. From 1982 to 1999 almost all Siberian ecosystems showed an earlier onset of spring. The strongest advance of spring was observed in Urban areas (0.74 days advance per year), Deciduous Broadleaf Forest (0.46 d/a), Forest - Cropland complexes (0.62 d/a), Humid grasslands (0.35 d/a) and Cropland - Grassland complexes (0.45 d/a).

"Central Siberia has a more continental climate. The changes in the timing of spring and also in fire occurrence are linked to temperature changes and a climate pattern that scientists call the Arctic Oscillation" said Professor Balzter. "Towards the East Siberian coast the Pacific plays a more important role, and the El Niño phenomenon together with low rainfall determines what happens to the forest".

In the continental parts of Central Siberia the Arctic Oscillation and corresponding heat waves are thought to control the fire regime, while in East Siberia El Niño conditions and droughts are thought to play a major role.

"Planet Earth is always more complicated than you think", says Professor Balzter, "The lengthening of the growing season that has been described in the scientific literature is a non-linear phenomenon. It is influenced by feedbacks between the atmosphere and the forest, which responds to rising greenhouse gas levels and higher temperatures."

Reference: Balzter, H., Gerard, F., Weedon, G., Grey, W., Combal, B., Bartholome, E., Bartalev, S. and Los, S., 2007,  Coupling of vegetation growing season anomalies with hemispheric and regional scale climate patterns in Central and East Siberia, Journal of Climate 20:15, 3713--3729, doi: 10.1175/JCLI4226


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Leicester. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Leicester. "Climate Change Threatens Siberian Forests." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 August 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/07/070731191203.htm>.
University of Leicester. (2007, August 5). Climate Change Threatens Siberian Forests. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/07/070731191203.htm
University of Leicester. "Climate Change Threatens Siberian Forests." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/07/070731191203.htm (accessed April 23, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

California Drought Is Good News for Gold Prospectors

California Drought Is Good News for Gold Prospectors

AFP (Apr. 22, 2014) — For months California has suffered from a historic drought. The lack of water is worrying for farmers and ranchers, but for gold diggers it’s a stroke of good fortune. With water levels low, normally inaccessible areas are exposed. Duration: 01:57 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: MN Lakes Still Frozen Before Fishing Opener

Raw: MN Lakes Still Frozen Before Fishing Opener

AP (Apr. 22, 2014) — With only three weeks until Minnesota's fishing opener, many are wondering if the ice will be gone. Some of the Northland lakes are still covered by up to three feet of ice, causing concern that just like last year, the lakes won't be ready. (April 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Warn Of Likely El Niño Event This Year

Scientists Warn Of Likely El Niño Event This Year

Newsy (Apr. 22, 2014) — With Pacific ocean water already showing signs of warming, the NOAA says there's about a 66 percent chance the event will begin before November. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Is North Korea Planning Nuclear Test #4?

Is North Korea Planning Nuclear Test #4?

Newsy (Apr. 22, 2014) — South Korean officials say North Korea is preparing to conduct another nuclear test, but is Pyongyang just bluffing this time? Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

    Health News

    Environment News

    Technology News



      Save/Print:
      Share:  

      Free Subscriptions


      Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

      Get Social & Mobile


      Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

      Have Feedback?


      Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
      Mobile iPhone Android Web
      Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
      Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
      Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins