Vegetation Trajectories and Shortwave Radiative Forcing following Boreal Forest Disturbance in Eastern Siberia


Abstract Major boreal forest disturbance and associated carbon emissions have been reported in the coldest region of the northern hemisphere. Related biophysical feedbacks to climate remain highly uncertain but might reduce warming effects expected from carbon emissions. This study quantifies albedo change after disturbance, primarily fires, in larch-dominated forests around Yakutsk as compared to undisturbed areas with natural albedo variability, using satellite-based time-series. The related annual mean shortwave radiative forcing was -6.015 W/m2 for the 13 years following forest disturbance. It was highly negative during snow-covered months (-3.738 W/m2 to -13.638 W/m2), but positive (+5.441 W/m2) for the summer months in the first year after disturbance, decreasing afterward and also turning into a negative forcing after 5 years. Forcing by surface shortwave radiation must be considered to assess the impact of boreal forest disturbance on climate and additional feedbacks, such as increased permafrost thaw or transition to alternative ecosystem states.

Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences