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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Fire effects on net radiation and energy partitioning: Contrasting responses of tundra and boreal forest ecosystems


The net radiation available to drive surface-atmosphere exchange is strongly influenced by albedo and surface temperature. Tower-based microclimatic and eddy covariance measurements in typical Alaskan black spruce and tundra ecosystems before and immediately after fire indicated a 10% decrease in net radiation over the burned spruce stand but a 12% increase in net radiation over the burned tundra surface. In both cases, there was increased partitioning of net radiation into sensible heat flux. In terms of absolute fluxes, however, fire increased average sensible heating over tundra by ∼50 W m−2 but caused little change in average sensible heat flux over the black spruce forest. This difference in fire effects occurred because fire altered the canopy characteristics (including surface roughness) more strongly in the forest than in the tundra, leading to a greater reduction in surface-atmosphere coupling over the forest.

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