Andrew Black


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What explains the year-to-year variation in growing season timing of boreal black spruce forests?
Mariam El-Amine, Alexandre Roy, Franziska Koebsch, Jennifer L. Baltzer, Alan Barr, Andrew Black, Hiroki Ikawa, Hiroyasu Iwata, Hideki Kobayashi, Masahito Ueyama, Oliver Sonnentag
Agricultural and Forest Meteorology, Volume 324

Amplified climate warming in high latitudes is expected to affect growing season timing of the vast boreal biome. It is unclear whether the presence of permafrost (perennially frozen ground) might have an influence on changes in growing season timing. This study examined how different environmental variables explained, either directly or indirectly, the variation in growing season timing of boreal forest stands with and without permafrost. We expected that environmental variables explaining the variation in growing season timing differed or had different explanatory power depending on permafrost presence or absence. The growing season was delineated from daily gross primary productivity (GPP) time series derived from 40 site-year data of net ecosystem carbon dioxide exchange measured with eddy covariance techniques over five black spruce (Picea mariana [Mill.])-dominated boreal forest stands in North America. In permafrost-free forest stands, a combination of start in canopy ‘green-up’ in spring and the timing of air and soil temperature increasing above freezing explained the start-of-season (SOSGPP). Results from commonality analysis and structural equation modeling suggest that canopy ‘green-up’ and air temperature directly affected SOSGPP in permafrost-free forest stands. In addition, soil temperature acted as mediator for an indirect effect of air temperature on SOSGPP. In contrast, none of the environmental variables, or their combination, explained the variation in SOSGPP in forest stands with permafrost. The explanatory power of environmental variables was more consistent regarding the end-of-season (EOSGPP). In both, forest stands with and without permafrost, EOSGPP was directly explained by mean soil water content in the fall and the first day of continuous snowpack formation. A better understanding how environmental variables control SOSGPP and EOSGPP in forest stands with and without permafrost will help to refine parameterizations of the boreal biome in Earth system models.


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Tracers reveal limited influence of plantation forests on surface runoff in a UK natural flood management catchment
Leo Peskett, Kate Heal, Alan MacDonald, Andrew Black, Jeffrey J. McDonnell
Journal of Hydrology: Regional Studies, Volume 36

• Natural tracers reveal runoff sources in UK natural flood management catchment. • Water already stored in the catchments dominated runoff in high flow events. • Plantation forest cover reduced the fraction of rapid rainfall runoff. • Soils and geology dominated forest cover as control on rapid rainfall runoff fraction. • Differences in sources were greater between events than between catchments. United Kingdom (UK). Natural flood management (NFM) schemes are increasingly prominent in the UK. Studies of NFM have not yet used natural tracers at catchment scale to investigate how interventions influence partitioning during storms between surface rainfall runoff and water already stored in catchments. Here we investigate how catchment properties, particularly plantation forestry, influence surface storm rainfall runoff. We used hydrograph separation based on hydrogen and oxygen isotopes ( 2 H, 18 O) and acid neutralising capacity from high flow events to compare three headwater catchments (2.4-3.1 km 2 ) with differences in plantation forest cover ( Picea sitchensis: 94%, 41%, 1%) within a major UK NFM pilot, typical of the UK uplands. Plantation forest cover reduced the total storm rainfall runoff fraction during all events (by up to 11%) when comparing two paired catchments with similar soils, geology and topography but ∼50% difference in forest cover. However, comparison with the third catchment, with negligible forest cover but different characteristics, suggests that soils and geology were dominant controls on storm rainfall runoff fraction. Furthermore, differences between events were greater than differences between catchments. These findings suggest that while plantation forest cover may influence storm rainfall runoff fractions, it is not a dominant control in temperate upland UK catchments, especially for larger events. Soils and geology may exert greater influence, with implications for planning NFM.


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L-Band response to freeze/thaw in a boreal forest stand from ground- and tower-based radiometer observations
Alexandre Roy, Peter Toose, Alex Mavrovic, Christoforos Pappas, A. Royer, Chris Derksen, Aaron Berg, Tracy Rowlandson, Mariam El-Amine, Alan G. Barr, Andrew Black, Alexandre Langlois, Oliver Sonnentag
Remote Sensing of Environment, Volume 237

Abstract The extent, timing and duration of seasonal freeze/thaw (FT) state exerts dominant control on boreal forest carbon, water and energy cycle processes. Recent and on-going L-Band (≈1.4 GHz) spaceborne missions have the potential to provide enhanced information on FT state over large geographic regions with rapid revisit time. However, the low spatial resolution of these spaceborne observations (≈45 km) makes it difficult to isolate the primary contributions (soil, vegetation, snow) to the FT signal in boreal forest. To better quantify these controls, two L-Band radiometers were deployed (September 2016 to July 2017) at a black spruce (Picea mariana) dominated boreal forest site; one unit above and one unit on the ground surface below the canopy to disentangle the microwave contributions of overstory canopy, and the ground surface on the FT brightness temperature (TB) signal. Bi-weekly multi-angular measurements from both units were combined in order to estimate effective scattering albedo (ω) and the microwave vegetative optical depth (τ), using the τ-ω microwave vegetation radiative transfer model. Soil moisture probes were inserted in the trunk of two black spruce and one larch (Larix laricina) trunks located in the footprint of the above-canopy radiometer to measure tree trunk relative dielectric constant (RDCtree). Results showed a strong relationship between RDCtree and tree skin temperature (Ttree) under freezing temperature conditions, which led to a gradual decrease of τ in winter. During the spring thawing period in April and May, τ remained relatively stable. In contrast, it increased substantially in June, most likely in relation to the growing season onset. Overall, τ was related to the seasonal RDCtree cycle (r = 0.76). Regarding ω, a value of 0.086 (±0.029) was obtained, but no dependency on Ttree or RDCtree was observed. Despite the observed impact of FT on vegetation L-Band signals, results from continuous TB observations spanning from 14 September 2016 to 25 May 2017, indicated that the main contribution to the observed L-Band TB freeze-up signal in the fall originated from the ground surface. The above-canopy unit showed some sensitivity to overstory canopy FT, yet the sensitivity was lower compared to the signal induced by the ground FT. In April and May, L-Band radiometer FT retrieval agreed closely to the melt onset detection using RDCtree but it was likely related to the coincident presence of liquid water in the snow. Our findings have important applications to L-Band spaceborne FT algorithm development and validation across the boreal forest. More specifically, our findings allow better quantification of the potential effect of frozen ground on various biogeophysical and biogeochemical processes in boreal forests.


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Memory effects of climate and vegetation affecting net ecosystem CO2 fluxes in global forests
Simon Besnard, Nuno Carvalhais, M. Altaf Arain, Andrew Black, Benjamin Brede, Nina Buchmann, Jiquan Chen, J.G.P.W. Clevers, L.P. Dutrieux, Fabian Gans, Martin Herold, Martin Jung, Yukio Kosugi, Alexander Knohl, Beverly E. Law, Eugénie Paul‐Limoges, Annalea Lohila, Lutz Merbold, Olivier Roupsard, Riccardo Valentini, Sebastian Wolf, Xudong Zhang, Markus Reichstein
PLOS ONE, Volume 14, Issue 2

Forests play a crucial role in the global carbon (C) cycle by storing and sequestering a substantial amount of C in the terrestrial biosphere. Due to temporal dynamics in climate and vegetation activity, there are significant regional variations in carbon dioxide (CO2) fluxes between the biosphere and atmosphere in forests that are affecting the global C cycle. Current forest CO2 flux dynamics are controlled by instantaneous climate, soil, and vegetation conditions, which carry legacy effects from disturbances and extreme climate events. Our level of understanding from the legacies of these processes on net CO2 fluxes is still limited due to their complexities and their long-term effects. Here, we combined remote sensing, climate, and eddy-covariance flux data to study net ecosystem CO2 exchange (NEE) at 185 forest sites globally. Instead of commonly used non-dynamic statistical methods, we employed a type of recurrent neural network (RNN), called Long Short-Term Memory network (LSTM) that captures information from the vegetation and climate's temporal dynamics. The resulting data-driven model integrates interannual and seasonal variations of climate and vegetation by using Landsat and climate data at each site. The presented LSTM algorithm was able to effectively describe the overall seasonal variability (Nash-Sutcliffe efficiency, NSE = 0.66) and across-site (NSE = 0.42) variations in NEE, while it had less success in predicting specific seasonal and interannual anomalies (NSE = 0.07). This analysis demonstrated that an LSTM approach with embedded climate and vegetation memory effects outperformed a non-dynamic statistical model (i.e. Random Forest) for estimating NEE. Additionally, it is shown that the vegetation mean seasonal cycle embeds most of the information content to realistically explain the spatial and seasonal variations in NEE. These findings show the relevance of capturing memory effects from both climate and vegetation in quantifying spatio-temporal variations in forest NEE.


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Quantifying the effect of forest age in annual net forest carbon balance
Simon Besnard, Nuno Carvalhais, M. Altaf Arain, Andrew Black, S. de Bruin, Nina Buchmann, Alessandro Cescatti, Jiquan Chen, J.G.P.W. Clevers, Ankur R. Desai, Christopher M. Gough, Kateřina Havránková, Martin Herold, Lukas Hörtnagl, Martin Jung, Alexander Knohl, B. Kruijt, Lenka Krupková, Beverly E. Law, Anders Lindroth, Asko Noormets, Olivier Roupsard, R. Steinbrecher, Andrej Varlagin, Caroline Vincke, Markus Reichstein
Environmental Research Letters, Volume 13, Issue 12

Forests dominate carbon (C) exchanges between the terrestrial biosphere and the atmosphere on land. In the long term, the net carbon flux between forests and the atmosphere has been significantly impacted by changes in forest cover area and structure due to ecological disturbances and management activities. Current empirical approaches for estimating net ecosystem productivity (NEP) rarely consider forest age as a predictor, which represents variation in physiological processes that can respond differently to environmental drivers, and regrowth following disturbance. Here, we conduct an observational synthesis to empirically determine to what extent climate, soil properties, nitrogen deposition, forest age and management influence the spatial and interannual variability of forest NEP across 126 forest eddy-covariance flux sites worldwide. The empirical models explained up to 62% and 71% of spatio-temporal and across-site variability of annual NEP, respectively. An investigation of model structures revealed that forest age was a dominant factor of NEP spatio-temporal variability in both space and time at the global scale as compared to abiotic factors, such as nutrient availability, soil characteristics and climate. These findings emphasize the importance of forest age in quantifying spatio-temporal variation in NEP using empirical approaches.