Faculty research


Long-Term Forest Ecosystem Monitoring and GIS Modeling of Taiga Forest Dynamics

Yarie, J. A.

Situation and purpose:
A total understanding of the interaction between the environmental dynamics that regulate forest growth at the landscape scale in interior Alaska is just starting to develop. The purpose of this study is to develop a computer model on the functional aspects of forest ecosystem dynamics at a broad landscape scale in interior Alaska.

Impact:
The results of the 35-year study will yield a long-term perspective on the climatic and nutrient controls of forest growth in interior Alaska. The duration of this study and its distribution in various vegetation types across the landscape will start to yield a potential understanding of the effects of climate change on the forest ecosystems found in interior Alaska.


SOIL CARBON BALANCE AND NITROGEN DYNAMICS FOLLOWING DISTURBANCE BY WILDLFIRE AND LOGGING IN INTERIOR ALASKAN FORESTS

Valentine, D. W.

Situation and purpose:
Because boreal forest soils constitute a huge reservoir of carbon, a clearer understanding of the responses of boreal forest soil respiration to disturbance will be critical to successfully assessing its likely future role in atmospheric carbon balance. The expanding role of forestry in Alaska and in the circumpolar north requires a clearer understanding of the responses of boreal forest floor microbial dynamics to disturbance is a key to sustaining productivity over the long term.

Impact:
As this project began during summer 2001, its real impacts lie primarily in the future. They will accrue primarily to the public via management agencies, such as Alaskas Department of Natural Resources (especially Division of Forestry and Division of Lands). Discussions about carbon sequestration as a sellable product for land managers have become more commonplace and serious. To work in Alaska, any such scheme must be based on a clear understanding of and accounting for the future role of Alaskas boreal forest soils in sequestering or releasing carbon under changing disturbance regimes. This project, in concert with other related projects at UAF, will help provide that understanding.


THE RESPONSE OF FOREST ECOLOGY AND GROWTH TO CLIMATE VARIABILITY IN ALASKA: PATTERNS, CONTROLS, AND STRATEGIES FOR MANAGEMENT

Juday, G. P.

Situation and purpose:
Carbon dioxide is one of the more important greenhouse gasses in the earth's atmosphere and CO2 enrichment through fossil fuel combustion has produced a discernable human influence on global climate. The management of forests, agricultural lands and rangelands can play an important role in enhancing carbon sinks. Reliable measurements of net uptake of carbon dioxide into its forests will assist Alaska in establishing the magnitude and thus obtaining market value cash income.

Impact:
These results suggest that there is a continuing high risk caused by climate warming in managing forest land in southcentral Alaska for spruce forest crops. Under recent climate conditions, and especially under scenarios of further climate warming, spruce bark beetle irruption potential will remain high. As the small surviving understory spruce trees that are not susceptible to bark beetle attack in the region mature to commercial forest dimensions, they will move into the prime susceptibility size and age classes to serve as hosts for spruce bark beetle. Under these circumstances, the regional environment would remain effectively saturated with spruce bark beetles because climate limitations on beetles have been removed. Investments in regeneration and early tending of new commercial stands of spruce, should that be desired, would carry considerable risk because bark beetles would become effective agents of tree mortality at about the time that stands of spruce became large enough to generate commercial value


University of Alaska Southeast Forest Products Program (UASFPP) Phase 2

Brackley, A. M.

Situation and purpose:
Due to mill closings and the subsequent collapse of the wood products industries, Alaska communities are in need of economic restructuring. The purpose of this project is economic development in a holistic sense. The development process requires information about the raw material, the technology used in processing, and the markets for the resulting products. This program is designed to generate required information and transfer it to industry.

Impact:
As a result of this research Alaska sawmills should be able to increase the value of sales by 10 percent. Such an increase would represent $2.3 million increase in sales


University of Alaska Southeast Forest Products Program (UASFPP) Phase 3

Brackley, A. M.

Situation and purpose:
Due to mill closings and the subsequent collapse of the wood products industries, Alaska communities are in need of economic restructuring. The purpose of this project is economic development in a holistic sense. The development process requires information about the raw material, the technology used in processing, and the markets for the resulting products. This program is designed to generate required information and transfer it to industry.

Impact:
Alaska sawmills that market products in accordance with these new rules should be able to increase the value of sales by 10 percent. Such an increase would represent $2.3 million increase in sales.


Forest Stand Characterization and Growth and Yield for the Alaskan Northern Forest

Liang, Jingjing.

Situation and purpose:
Credible data and information are critical requirements for responsible forest management decision-making and financial investment. Much growth and yield data, currently available, are suspect, inadequate, or insufficiently precise. Goals are to quantify tree fiber production of Alaskan Northern Forest lands and to provide resource managers with appropriate equations, tables, and graphs essential for basic, state-of-the-art forest resource management decision-making and stand prescriptions.

Impact:
Alaska Northern Forest Cooperative already is benefiting forest resource owners and managers through dialogue, collaboration, and the draft research compendium. SITE INDEX curves will be used to better manage forestland, e.g., compare land for fiber production & investment purposes, prepare stand prescriptions for habitat, estimate biomass & carbon sequestration. LOGS plantations relate empirical height/diameter to trees/acre; thus, help managers make cost effective prescriptions for planting, natural regeneration, and spacing. EARLY HEIGHT GROWTH data is critical to improve stand growth model accuracy and predict time for seedlings to reach breast height & free-to-grow status. In addition to fiber yield, PSPs provide data on stand composition, structure, and succession, important for forest management and ecological modeling. Accurate cubic-foot TREE VOLUME EQUATIONS are critical tools for predicting stand volume (total & commercial), biomass, standing fuel, and carbon sequestration. Sale of small trees and slash for PHYTOCHEMICALS can offset management activities and even provide a profit and improve local economies. FOREST RESOURCE MANAGEMENT COMMUNITY TYPES will standardize land classification and prescription development and improvement forest resource management, reduce critical mistakes, and improve economic decision-making. Soils information complements the community type data set and identifies soils limiting factors and treatment hazards. Both soils and community types expand the ecologic knowledge of the Northern Forest.

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