Science Inventory

The contribution of wildland fire activity to nutrient deposition in the contiguous U.S.: Implications for vulnerable ecosystems (2018 CMAS Conference)

Citation:

Koplitz, S., R. Sabo, C. Clark, AND Chris Nolte. The contribution of wildland fire activity to nutrient deposition in the contiguous U.S.: Implications for vulnerable ecosystems (2018 CMAS Conference). 2018 CMAS Conference, Chapel Hill, NC, October 22 - 24, 2018.

Impact/Purpose:

To sustain growth and healthy function, ecosystems require access to certain key nutrients, particularly nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P). However, excessive deposition of these compounds can also damage ecosystems through acidification and nutrient imbalances, leading to significant reductions in productivity and harmful shifts in fundamental ecosystem structure. While wildland fires are a known source of atmospheric N, P, and other ecologically relevant compounds like sulfur (S), relatively little has been done to examine the implications of wildland fire nutrient deposition for ecosystem health in the U.S. In this work we combine atmospheric chemistry modeling1,2 with forest inventory data3,4 to 1) quantify the contribution of wildland fire emissions to nutrient deposition across the western U.S., and 2) assess the subsequent impacts on tree growth and survival rates. Understanding the broader environmental impacts of wildland fires in the U.S. will inform future decision making related to both fire management and ecosystem services conservation.

Description:

To sustain growth and healthy function, many species and ecosystems require access to certain key nutrients, particularly nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P). However, excessive deposition of these compounds can also damage ecosystems through acidification and nutrient imbalances, leading to significant reductions in productivity and harmful shifts in fundamental ecosystem structure. While wildland fires are a known source of atmospheric N, P, and other ecologically relevant compounds like sulfur (S), relatively little has been done to examine the implications of wildland fire nutrient deposition for vulnerable ecosystems. In this work we combine wildland fire emission estimates, atmospheric chemistry modeling, and forest inventory data to 1) quantify the contribution of wildland fire emissions to nutrient deposition across the contiguous U.S., and 2) assess the subsequent impacts on tree growth and survival rates. We find that wildland fires contributed an estimated 0.2 kg N/ha and 0.04 kg S/ha annually on average across the contiguous U.S. during the 2008-2012 study period, with maxima up to 1.4 kg N/ha and 0.6 kg S/ha. Preliminary results suggest that impacts of wildland fire nutrient deposition are most pronounced in the Pacific Northwest and Rocky Mountain regions, where wildland fires contributed over 20% of total N and S deposition in some areas. Ongoing work will quantify the impacts of simulated N and S deposition on tree growth and survival rates, as well as the estimated contribution of wildland fires to atmospheric P deposition. Understanding the broader environmental impacts of wildland fires in the U.S. will inform future decision making related to both fire management and ecosystem services conservation.

URLs/Downloads:

https://www.cmascenter.org/conference/2018/agenda.cfm   Exit

Record Details:

Record Type: DOCUMENT (PRESENTATION/POSTER)
Product Published Date: 10/24/2018
Record Last Revised: 02/15/2019
OMB Category: Other
Record ID: 344070

Organization:

U.S. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY

OFFICE OF RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT

NATIONAL EXPOSURE RESEARCH LABORATORY

SYSTEMS EXPOSURE DIVISION

ENVIRONMENTAL FUTURES ANALYSIS BRANCH