Warmer, drier conditions and more frequent fires are contributing to the combustion of “legacy carbon” in the Northwest Territories, Canada, according to NAU ECOSS postdoctoral researcher Xanthe Walker, along with NAU senior authors Michelle Mack (ECOSS), Ted Schurr (ECOSS) and GEODE lead Scott Goetz. These pools of carbon have historically been protected by thick organic soils, but shorter fire return intervals are making this carbon newly vulnerable. As legacy carbon continues to burn, concerns mount that boreal forests could shift from a carbon sink to a carbon source and thus contribute to the acceleration of climate warming.
Read more about this work in NAU News.
Lead author Xanthe Walker was also featured in an NPR News Now episode. Listen to Xanthe talk about this work here at around the 2 minute mark, or visit the NPR News Now website and navigate to the episode from August, 21, 2 PM ET, minute 2.
Above graphic by Victor O. Leshyk, Ecoss