Deciduous tree cover is expected to increase in North American boreal forests with climate warming and wildfire. This shift in composition has the potential to generate biophysical cooling via increased land surface albedo. Here we use Landsat-derived maps of continuous tree canopy cover and deciduous fractional composition to assess albedo change over recent decades. We find, on average, a small net decrease in deciduous fraction from 2000 to 2015 across boreal North America and from 1992 to 2015 across Canada, despite extensive fire disturbance that locally increased deciduous vegetation. We further find near-neutral net biophysical change in radiative forcing associated with albedo when aggregated across the domain. Thus, while there have been widespread changes in forest composition over the past several decades, the net changes in composition and associated post-fire radiative forcing have not induced systematic negative feedbacks to climate warming over the spatial and temporal scope of our study.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
- Social Sciences (miscellaneous)