Wildfire history of the boreal forest of south-western Yakutia (Siberia) over the last two millennia documented by a lake-sediment charcoal record

Ramesh Glückler, Ulrike Herzschuh, Stefan Kruse, Andrei Andreev, Stuart Andrew Vyse, Bettina Winkler, Boris K. Biskaborn, Luidmila Pestrykova, Elisabeth Dietze
2021 Biogeosciences  
Abstract. Wildfires, as a key disturbance in forest ecosystems, are shaping the world's boreal landscapes. Changes in fire regimes are closely linked to a wide array of environmental factors, such as vegetation composition, climate change, and human activity. Arctic and boreal regions and, in particular, Siberian boreal forests are experiencing rising air and ground temperatures with the subsequent degradation of permafrost soils leading to shifts in tree cover and species composition. Compared
more » ... to the boreal zones of North America or Europe, little is known about how such environmental changes might influence long-term fire regimes in Russia. The larch-dominated eastern Siberian deciduous boreal forests differ markedly from the composition of other boreal forests, yet data about past fire regimes remain sparse. Here, we present a high-resolution macroscopic charcoal record from lacustrine sediments of Lake Khamra (south-west Yakutia, Siberia) spanning the last ca. 2200 years, including information about charcoal particle sizes and morphotypes. Our results reveal a phase of increased charcoal accumulation between 600 and 900 CE, indicative of relatively high amounts of burnt biomass and high fire frequencies. This is followed by an almost 900-year-long period of low charcoal accumulation without significant peaks likely corresponding to cooler climate conditions. After 1750 CE fire frequencies and the relative amount of biomass burnt start to increase again, coinciding with a warming climate and increased anthropogenic land development after Russian colonization. In the 20th century, total charcoal accumulation decreases again to very low levels despite higher fire frequency, potentially reflecting a change in fire management strategies and/or a shift of the fire regime towards more frequent but smaller fires. A similar pattern for different charcoal morphotypes and comparison to a pollen and non-pollen palynomorph (NPP) record from the same sediment core indicate that broad-scale changes in vegetation composition were probably not a major driver of recorded fire regime changes. Instead, the fire regime of the last two millennia at Lake Khamra seems to be controlled mainly by a combination of short-term climate variability and anthropogenic fire ignition and suppression.
doi:10.5194/bg-18-4185-2021 fatcat:sgwvukkq3vb2zbwlg2gmcjrdd4