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By Kate Peterson and Jamie Anderson
An assistant professor in the School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences at Auburn University is co-author of a new research study published in the journal Science demonstrating that the deciduous trees replacing burned spruce forests more than make up for carbon and nitrogen loss, storing more carbon and accumulating it four times faster over a 100-year fire interval.
More severe and frequent fires in the Alaskan boreal forest are releasing into the atmosphere vast stores of carbon and nitrogen from burned trees and soil, which AU forest ecology professor Heather Alexander said has been widely thought to accelerate climate warming.
The study, by a team of researchers at the Center for Ecosystem Science and Society at Northern Arizona University, counters this theory and suggests that faster-growing, less-flammable deciduous forests may act as a stabilizing “firebreak” against escalating fire patterns and nutrient loss in the region.
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