Research Reveals Alaskan Forests’ Carbon Richness

Submitted by Jeanne Rife on Mon, 06/06/2016 - 13:43

The US Geological Survey (USGS), the US Forest Service and the University of Alaska at Fairbanks have jointly concluded an archetype study that reveals the carbon richness of Alaskan forests. The new research indicates that the forests, wetlands and permafrost of Alaska are home to much bigger carbon deposits as compared to lower 48 states.

Interior's Deputy Secretary Mike Connor stated that this targeted evaluation has provided an important information level that will serve as a base for measurements to gain improved insight into the properties of carbon present in Alaskan ecosystems. While 18% area of the US is covered by Alaskan land, about 53% of the total carbon reserve rests in Alaska.

USGS Associate Director for Climate and Land Use Change, Virginia Burkett, revealed that carbon deposits that are seized in ecosystems that fall under the temperature zone are at lower risk as compared to those carbon stocks that are on high latitude ecosystems. Burkett explained the reason for the difference in vulnerability as the boreal and arctic regions being more susceptible to quicker rise in average temperatures during the remaining century.

“This new assessment specifically reveals how soil carbon losses in Alaska are amplified by wildfires, which have increased in size and frequency with the warming Arctic climate”, said Burkett. Biological carbon storage, which is also called carbon sequestration, is a process involving the eradication of carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere and its accumulation as carbon deposits in vegetation, soils and sediment.

USGS Scientist and Professor of Land Ecology at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, A. David McGuire, clarified that huge volumes of soil and biomass carbon have got accumulated at Alaska over a period of time owing the low temperatures in the region. However, the point of concern is the joint impact of rising temperatures, permafrost defrosting, more recurrent wildfires and stream flow modifications on carbon accumulation and greenhouse gas exchange.