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Fire Ecology, 2010
Volume 6, Issue 3

Impact of Climate Change on Forest Fire Severity and Consequences for Carbon Stocks in Boreal Forest Stands of Quebec, Canada: A Synthesis
Authors: Simon van Bellen, Michelle Garneau, and Yves Bergeron
Pages: 16-44
DOI: 10.4996/fireecology.0603016

The global boreal forests comprise large stocks of organic carbon that vary with climate and fire regimes. Global warming is likely to influence several aspects of fire and cause shifts in carbon sequestration patterns. Fire severity or forest floor depth of burn is one important aspect that influences both carbon emission during combustion as well as postfire ecosystem regeneration. Numerous publications on projections of future area burned exist, whereas scenarios on twenty-first century fire severity are more scarce, and the stand-typical response to severe fire weather is rarely taken into account. This paper aims to synthesize knowledge on boreal forest carbon stocks in relation to changes in fire severity for Quebec, Canada. Besides warming, this region may be subjected to an important increase in future precipitation. Future fire severity and area burned may well increase as fire weather will be drier, especially near the end of the twenty-first century. Moreover, the fire season peak may shift towards the late summer. Intense burning will favour tree cover development while the forest floor carbon stock may become less important. As a result, total Quebec boreal carbon sequestration may diminish. The development of dynamic vegetation models may improve scenarios on twenty-first century changes in carbon sequestration driven by climate change and fire severity and frequency effects.

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