Canadian Forest Service Publications
Peatland-fire interactions: A review of wildland fire feedbacks and interactions in Canadian boreal peatlands. 2021. Nelson, K., Thompson, D. Hopkinson, C., Petrone, R. Chasmer, L.; Science of the Total Environment. 769: 145212
Issued by: Laurentian Forestry Centre
Catalog ID: 40330
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Boreal peatlands store a disproportionately large quantity of soil carbon (C) and play a critical role within the global C-climate system; however, with climatic warming, these C stores are at risk. Increased wildfire frequency and severity are expected to increase C loss from boreal peatlands, contributing to a shift from C sink to source. Here, we provide a comprehensive review of pre- and post-fire hydrological and ecological interactions that affect the likelihood of peatland burning, address the connections between peatland fires and the C-climate cycle, and provide a conceptual model of peatland processes as they relate to wildland fire, hydro-climate, and ecosystem change. Despite negative ecohydrological feedback mechanisms that may compensate for increased C loss initially, the cumulative effects of climatic warming, anthropogenic peatland fragmentation, and subsequent peatland drying will increase C loss to the atmosphere, driving a positive C feedback cycle. However, the extent to which negative and positive feedbacks will compensate for one another and the timelines for each remains unclear. We suggest that a multi-disciplinary approach of combining process knowledge with remotely sensed data and ecohydrological and wildland fire models is essential for better understanding the role of boreal peatlands and wildland fire in the global climate system.