Scott J. Davidson


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Wildfire and degradation accelerate northern peatland carbon release
Sophie Wilkinson, Roxane Andersen, Paul A. Moore, Scott J. Davidson, Gustaf Granath, J. M. Waddington
Nature Climate Change, Volume 13, Issue 5

The northern peatland carbon sink plays a vital role in climate regulation; however, the future of the carbon sink is uncertain, in part, due to the changing interactions of peatlands and wildfire. Here, we use empirical datasets from natural, degraded and restored peatlands in non-permafrost boreal and temperate regions to model net ecosystem exchange and methane fluxes, integrating peatland degradation status, wildfire combustion and post-fire dynamics. We find that wildfire processes reduced carbon uptake in pristine peatlands by 35% and further enhanced emissions from degraded peatlands by 10%. The current small net sink is vulnerable to the interactions of peatland degraded area, burn rate and peat burn severity. Climate change impacts accelerated carbon losses, where increased burn severity and burn rate reduced the carbon sink by 38% and 65%, respectively, by 2100. However, our study demonstrates the potential for active peatland restoration to buffer these impacts. Northern peatland carbon sink plays a vital role in climate regulation. Here, the authors show that wildfire reduced peatland carbon uptake and enhanced emissions from degraded peatlands; climate change impacts accelerated carbon losses where increased burn rate and severity reduced carbon sink.


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The Potential of Peatlands as Nature-Based Climate Solutions
Maria Strack, Scott J. Davidson, Takashi Hirano, Christian Dunn
Current Climate Change Reports, Volume 8, Issue 3

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Disturbances in North American boreal forest and Arctic tundra: impacts, interactions, and responses
Adrianna C. Foster, Jonathan Wang, G. V. Frost, Scott J. Davidson, Elizabeth Hoy, Kevin W. Turner, Oliver Sonnentag, Howard E. Epstein, Logan T. Berner, A. H. Armstrong, Mary Kang, Brendan M. Rogers, Elizabeth M. Campbell, Kimberley Miner, Kathleen M. Orndahl, Laura Bourgeau‐Chavez, David A. Lutz, Nancy H. F. French, Dong Chen, Jinyang Du, Tatiana A. Shestakova, J. K. Shuman, Ken D. Tape, Anna-Maria Virkkala, Christopher Potter, Scott J. Goetz
Environmental Research Letters, Volume 17, Issue 11

Abstract Ecosystems in the North American Arctic-Boreal Zone (ABZ) experience a diverse set of disturbances associated with wildfire, permafrost dynamics, geomorphic processes, insect outbreaks and pathogens, extreme weather events, and human activity. Climate warming in the ABZ is occurring at over twice the rate of the global average, and as a result the extent, frequency, and severity of these disturbances are increasing rapidly. Disturbances in the ABZ span a wide gradient of spatiotemporal scales and have varying impacts on ecosystem properties and function. However, many ABZ disturbances are relatively understudied and have different sensitivities to climate and trajectories of recovery, resulting in considerable uncertainty in the impacts of climate warming and human land use on ABZ vegetation dynamics and in the interactions between disturbance types. Here we review the current knowledge of ABZ disturbances and their precursors, ecosystem impacts, temporal frequencies, spatial extents, and severity. We also summarize current knowledge of interactions and feedbacks among ABZ disturbances and characterize typical trajectories of vegetation loss and recovery in response to ecosystem disturbance using satellite time-series. We conclude with a summary of critical data and knowledge gaps and identify priorities for future study.


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Hydrogeologic setting overrides any influence of wildfire on pore water dissolved organic carbon concentration and quality at a boreal fen
Scott J. Davidson, Matthew C. Elmes, Hayley Rogers, Christine van Beest, Richard M. Petrone, Jonathan S. Price, Maria Strack
Ecohydrology, Volume 12, Issue 7

Abstract Western Boreal Canada could experience drier hydrometeorological conditions under future climatic changes, and the drying of nonpermafrost peatlands can lead to higher frequency and extent of wildfires. Despite increasing pressures, our understanding of the impact of fire on dissolved organic carbon (DOC) concentration and quality across boreal peatlands is not consistent. This study capitalizes on the rare opportunity of having 3 years of prefire and 3 years of postfire DOC data at a treed, moderate‐rich fen in the Western Boreal Plain, northern Alberta, to investigate wildfire effects on peatland DOC dynamics. We investigated whether a wildfire facilitated any changes in the pore water DOC concentration and quality. There was very little impact of the fire directly, with no significant changes in DOC concentrations postfire. We highlight that DOC patterns are more likely to be controlled by local hydrogeological factors than any effect of fire. Fall hydrological conditions and subsequent winter storage processes impose a strong control on DOC concentrations the following year. We suggest that the presence or absence of concrete ground frost in the fen (determined by fall water table position) influences overwinter storage changes, controlling the effect that DOC‐poor snowmelt may have on pore water concentrations. However, an increase in SUVA 254 was found 2 years postfire, indicating an increase in aromaticity. These results highlight the need for careful consideration of the local hydrogeologic setting and hydrological regime when predicting and analysing trends in DOC concentrations and quality.