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Zhanzhang Cai


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Wildfire impacts on the carbon budget of a managed Nordic boreal forest


  • Julia Kelly
  • Natascha Kljun
  • Zhanzhang Cai
  • Stefan H. Doerr
  • Claudio Donofrio
  • Thomas Holst
  • Irene Lehner
  • Anders Lindroth
  • Shangharsha Thapa
  • Patrik Vestin
  • Cristina Santín

Summary, in English

Wildfire is one of the most important disturbances affecting boreal forests. Most previous research on boreal forest fires has occurred in North American forests which have different fire regimes, tree species and are less intensively managed than their Eurasian counterparts. Recent extreme fire years have highlighted the vulnerability of the Nordic boreal forest to climatic shifts that are increasing forest fire frequency and severity. The Ljusdal fire (2018) was one of the largest wildfires in recorded history in Sweden. We established eddy covariance flux towers to track the impacts of this fire on the carbon balance of two Pinus sylvestris sites subject to different fire severities and forest management strategies 1–4 years post-fire. The ‘SLM’ site was a mature stand that experienced low-severity fire (trees survived) followed by salvage-logging and reseeding, whilst the ‘HY’ site was 10 years old when it experienced high-severity fire (all trees killed) then was replanted with seedlings. During the study period, both sites were net carbon sources at the annual scale. It took up to 4 years after the fire until the first day of net CO2 uptake was recorded at each site. We estimated that it will take 13 years (8, 21; mean ± 95 % confidence intervals) after the fire until the sites reach a neutral annual carbon balance. It will take up to 32 years (19, 53) at HY and 46 years (31, 70) at SLM to offset the carbon lost during and after the fire and salvage-logging. In addition, our measurements showed that more carbon was emitted in the first 4 years after the fire compared to the carbon lost from combustion during the fire. Quantifying carbon fluxes during the initial years after fire is therefore crucial for estimating the net impact of wildfire on the carbon budget of boreal forests.


  • Centrum för miljö- och klimatvetenskap (CEC)
  • BECC: Biodiversity and Ecosystem services in a Changing Climate
  • MERGE: ModElling the Regional and Global Earth system
  • Institutionen för naturgeografi och ekosystemvetenskap
  • LTH profilområde: Aerosoler
  • ICOS Sweden






Agricultural and Forest Meteorology




Artikel i tidskrift




  • Environmental Sciences




  • 2018 Wildfires: Forest Management Impact on Above- and Belowground Ecosystem Recovery
  • Using high-resolution drone data to analyse forest recovery after the 2018 Swedish wildfires
  • Forest fires - impacts on carbon pools, climate forcing, and their societal perceptions during the early vegetation recovery years
  • Impacts of the extreme 2018 forest fires and post-fire forest management on carbon pools and climate forcing
  • Post-fire reforestation; securing climate-relevant carbon baseline data from soil and canopy to ecosystem scale


  • ISSN: 0168-1923