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Comment on “Wetland drying and succession across the Kenai Peninsula Lowlands, south-central Alaska”

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Abstract:

Klein et al. (2005, Can. J. For. Res. 35: 1931–1941) compare aerial photographs and report dramatically lower lake levels on the northern Kenai Peninsula, Alaska. They hypothesize that the lower lake levels may be caused by a decline in moisture surplus driven by climate change. However, the reported decline in surplus appears to be insufficient to explain the lower lake levels. Here I develop a simple sensitivity analysis to test their hypothesis and also show how tectonic processes such as the Great Alaskan earthquake could dramatically lower lake levels by fracturing an underlying aquitard. Tectonic processes, therefore, could potentially alter forest succession and wetland ecosystems by inducing hydrologic changes that mimic changes in climate.

Klein et al. (2005, Rev. Can. Rech. For. 35: 1931–1941) comparent des photographies aériennes et rapportent une baisse dramatique du niveau des lacs dans le nord de la péninsule de Kenai en Alaska. Ils ont émis l’hypothèse que la baisse du niveau des lacs pourrait être due à une réduction de l’excédent d’humidité causée par le changement climatique. Cependant, la diminution de l’excédent d’humidité qui a été rapportée semble insuffisante pour expliquer la baisse du niveau des lacs. Dans cet article, j’élabore une simple analyse de sensibilité pour tester leur hypothèse et je montre comment des processus tectoniques, tels que l’important tremblement de terre de 1964 en Alaska, auraient pu causer une baisse dramatique du niveau des lacs en fracturant une couche semi-perméable souterraine. Des processus tectoniques pourraient par conséquent modifier la succession forestière et les écosystèmes des zones humides en induisant des changements hydrologiques qui imitent des changements climatiques.

Document Type: Discussion

Publication date: February 1, 2011

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  • Published since 1971, this monthly journal features articles, reviews, notes and commentaries on all aspects of forest science, including biometrics and mensuration, conservation, disturbance, ecology, economics, entomology, fire, genetics, management, operations, pathology, physiology, policy, remote sensing, social science, soil, silviculture, wildlife and wood science, contributed by internationally respected scientists. It also publishes special issues dedicated to a topic of current interest.
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