Forest fires may cause cooling in boreal Canada



As climate in North America continues to become warmer and drier through the 21st century, a new study finds that fire may be playing an increasingly important role in shaping the climate of the boreal regions of Canada. Forest fires change the amount of shortwave radiation absorbed by Earth's surface by reducing vegetation cover and changing the composition of plant species, thereby changing the reflectivity of the surface (albedo). Fires also affect other ecosystem processes and increase aerosol (particularly soot) emission and deposition, all of which alter regional climate through a series of feedbacks mechanisms. Jin et al. used satellite observations of surface albedo from 2000 to 2011 and fire perimeter data since 1970 to study how forest fires affect surface albedo and associated shortwave radiation at the surface, across forests in boreal Canada.