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Climate & Radiation
Geodesy and Geophysics
Wallops Field Support
614.4 Branch Seminar - Doug Morton
University of Maryland, College Park
Friday, May 30, 2008 - 08:00
Fire is the dominant means of clearing Amazon forest for agricultural uses. Deforestation fires often escape their intended boundaries and burn into standing forest, killing between 5 and 50% of canopy trees, thereby altering forest structure, species composition, and the likelihood of futuredisturbances. Previous estimates of the extent of fire-damaged forests in Amazonia are poorly constrained due to large inter-annual variability in forest fire activity and frequent confusion among deforestation, selective logging, and forest fires in satellite image analyses. We build a more complete understanding of the source, size, and frequency of forest fire events in southern Amazonia using time-series methods to characterize anthropogenic fire use and isolate fire-damaged forest from logging and deforestation. Results from the satellite-based assessment of burned forest are used to calibrate a new fire model in Ecosystem Demography (ED), a height-structured ecosystem model. Model testing demonstrates that frequent fire exposure can trap a forested ecosystem in a low-biomass state dominated by short vegetation. Future modeling work will evaluate the contribution of anthropogenic fires to changes in Amazon forest structure under a range of climate scenarios to generate insight into how different land use possibilities alter the long-term response to climate change.