Ge, JJ (2011). Satellite-Observed Surface Temperature Changes after the 2004 Taylor Complex Fire in Alaska. EARTH INTERACTIONS, 15, 11.
Land-use and land-cover change has been recognized as a key component in global climate change. In the boreal forest ecosystem, fires often cause significant changes in vegetation structure and surface biophysical characteristics, which in turn dramatically change energy and water balances of land surface. Several studies have characterized fire-induced changes in surface energy balance in boreal ecosystem based on site observations. This study provides satellite-observed impacts of a large fire on surface climate in Alaska's boreal forest. A land surface temperature (LST) product from NASA's Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) is used as the primary data. Five years after fire, surface temperature over the burned area increased by an average of 2.0 degrees C in the May-August period. The increase reached a maximum of 3.2 degrees C in the year immediately following the fire. The warm anomaly decreased slightly after the second year but remained until the fifth year of the study. These changes in surface temperature may directly affect surface net radiation and thus partition of surface available energy. By documenting continuous and synoptic surface temperature changes over multiple years, this paper demonstrates the value of Earth Observing System (EOS) observations for land-climate interaction research. The observed characteristics of surface temperature change as well as changes in key surface biophysical parameters such as albedo and leaf area index (LAI) can be used in the next generation of climate models to improve the representation of large-scale ecosystem disturbances.