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Project ID: 06-3-1-23

Year: 2006

Date Started: 08/16/2006

Date Completed: 04/26/2010

Title: Reconstructing Fire Regimes in Tundra Ecosystems to Inform a Management-Oriented Ecosystem Model

Project Proposal Abstract: Fire and fuels management goals in Alaska are hindered by a limited understanding of fire history and the controls of fire regimes. Nowhere is this statement more accurate that in tundra ecosystems that cover nearly one-third of the state. Over 60 communities and 348 native allotments are located within this fuel type, as in any region, fire and land managers working with tundra face decisions on fuel management, suppression tactics, and pre-suppression staffing. However, unlike other regions, these decisions are currently made in the absence of long-term fire history records and limited empirical knowledge on the relationships between fire, climate and vegetation. Current and future climatic change also challenge land managers as they consider the impacts of increasing temperatures on tundra fire regimes and the cascading effects this could have on other ecosystem processes. The treeless tundra presents difficulties for reconstructing fire histories with traditional tools such as dendrochronology. This study capitalizes on the ability to reconstruct both vegetation and fire history with lake-sediment records. Using macroscopic charcoal from well-dated lake sediments, we will reconstruct the frequency component of fire regimes at two sites in two tundra types across the Seward Peninsula and within the Noatak River watershed. Fossil pollen from each of these eight sites will allow us to evaluate large-scale changes in the vegetation communities over the span of the fire-history records. Our sampling design facilitates inferences into the relative importance of climate and vegetation on the frequency component of tundra fire regimes. Results from this study will provide managers with quantitative estimates of fire-return-interval distributions over the past several centuries to several thousand years. This information will immediately prove useful for classifying fire regimes, understanding the historic range of variability in these systems, and participating in National fire initiatives such as Fire Regime Condition Class (FRCC) and LANDFIRE. Fire-history data in addition to vegetation classifications and modern climate data will also serve to refine the Boreal version of the Alaskan Frame-based Ecosystem Code (Boreal ALFRESCO), a model specifically designed to simulate climate-vegetation-fire linkages in Alaskan biomes. With prior funding from the Joint Fire Science Program (JFSP 01-1-1-02 and 05-2-1-07) Boreal ALFRESCO has increasingly been adopted by Alaskan fire managers as a tool for assessing fuels and fire hazards. This study will provide the observations required to add representations of different tundra fuel types and climatic regimes to Boreal ALFRESCO. Development and parameterization of this new fuel component should substantially improve Boreal ALFRESCO's ability to simulate tundra fire dynamics. Our proposal thus addresses the Board's interest in understanding fire history in regions where fire regimes are not currently well defined, and it integrates this knowledge into a landscape model that is increasingly used within the Alaskan fire-management community.

Principal Investigator: Feng S. Hu

Agency/Organization: University of Illinois-Urbana-Champaign

Branch or Dept: Department of Plant Biology

Other Project Collaborators




Branch or Dept

Co-Principal Investigator

Philip E. Higuera

University of Montana

College of Forestry & Conservation

Co-Principal Investigator

Scott T. Rupp

University of Alaska-Fairbanks

SNRAS-School of Natural Resources & Agricultural Sciences

Federal Cooperator

Jennifer L. Barnes

NPS-National Park Service

Alaska Regional Office-Fairbanks

Project Locations

Fire Science Exchange Network


There are no project locations identified for this project.

Project Deliverables

Final Report view or print

("Results presented in JFSP Final Reports may not have been peer-reviewed and should be interpreted as tentative until published in a peer-reviewed source.")

  ID Type Title
view or print   1600 Government Publication Tundra Fire History Over the Past 6,000 Years in the Noatak National Preserve, Northwestern Alaska
view or print   3408 Journal Article Ecological Applications
view or print   2788 Journal Article Journal of Geophysical Research - Biogeosciences
view or print go to website 319 Conference/Symposia/Workshop Tundra Fire Regimes in the Noatak National Preserve, Northwestern Alaska, Since 6000 Yr BP
view or print go to website 718 Photo Photographs from field work in the Noatak National Preserve, June 2007
view or print   1176 Invited Paper/Presentation Holocene Climate-Vegetation-Fire Interactions: Lessons from High-Latitude and High-Elevation Ecosystems
view or print   1178 Invited Paper/Presentation Tundra Fire Regimes of Alaska: The Holocene Perspective
view or print   1179 Conference/Symposia/Workshop Tundra Fire-Regimes in the Alaskan Arctic and the Link to Late-Holocene Vegetation Change
view or print   2482 Invited Paper/Presentation Reconstructing Tundra Fire Regimes to Inform a Management-Oriented Ecosystem Model
view or print   1863 Conference/Symposia/Workshop Tundra Fire-Regime Response to Lat-Holocene Climate and Vegetation Chanage in the Alaskan Arctic
view or print   4592 Conference/Symposia/Workshop Tundra Fire Regimes in the Noatak National Preserve, Northwestern Alaska, Since 6000 Yr BP
view or print go to website 6105 Conference/Symposia/Workshop Tundra Fire Regimes in the Noatak National Preserve, Northwestern Alaska, Since 6000 Yr BP
view or print go to website 5852 Invited Paper/Presentation Beyond Boreal Forests: Holocene Fire History in Alaskan Tundra Ecosystems
view or print   7141 Invited Paper/Presentation Interactions of Climate, Vegetationi, and Fire During the Holocene: Instights to Future Change

Supporting Documents

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