Climate change is occurring most rapidly in Canada’s Arctic. This is changing the structure, composition and function of northern boreal forests. Because forests play a critical role in reducing the effect of global warming, the ability to understand and predict the effects of natural and imposed changes is critical.
As Canada Research Chair in Forests and Global Change, Dr. Jennifer Baltzer is focusing on two aspects of boreal land cover change: permafrost thaw and wildfires. As the climate warms, these disturbances are accelerating and are now the most important drivers of change in high-latitude ecosystems. Baltzer and her research team are combining field-based studies, permanent sample plot data, and data synthesis to improve large-scale forecasting of these changes. Their findings will help evaluate the rate and trajectory of changes in boreal forests, determine the underlying mechanisms of these changes and their implications, and support globally relevant evaluations of responses. Ultimately, their research will lead to better decision-making in northern communities and by governments.