Current issue: 55(4)
Under compilation: 55(5)
BOREAS is a four-year, regional-scale experiment to study the forested continental interior of Canada. It aims at improving our understanding of the interaction between the earths' climate system and the boreal forests at short and intermediate time scales, in order to clarify their role in global change.
During the winter, spring and summer of 1994, five field campaigns were conducted. About 85 investigation teams including nearly 300 scientists participated, including forest ecologists and ecophysiologists, atmospheric physicists, boundary-layer meteorologists, hydrologists, biochemists, atmospheric chemists and remote sensing specialists.
The findings so far have been significant in terms of their implication for global change. The boreal ecosystem, occupying roughly 17 percent of the vegetated land surface and thus an important driver of global weather and climate, absorbs much more solar energy than is assumed by operational numerical weather prediction models. Albedo measurement show that this forest absorbs nearly 91% of the sun's incident energy. Additionally, while it is known that much of the boreal ecosystems consists of forested wetlands, lakes, bogs and fens, the measurements show that the atmosphere above was extremely dry; humidity and deep boundary layer convection (3,000 m) mimicked conditions found only over deserts. Physiological measurements of the trees show that this atmospheric desiccation was a result of the forests' strong biological control limiting surface evaporation. This tight control was linked to the low soil temperature and subsequently reduced rates of photosynthesis. BOREAS measurement also focused on net ecosystem carbon exchange. Data acquired during the late spring and summer, showed the boreal forests to be a net carbon sink. However, no measurements were taken in the early spring following thaw, and in the late fall, where the balance between photosynthesis and respiration is poorly understood. During 1996 additional data will be acquired to resolve the annual carbon budget and how it might depend on interannual climate differences.
The investigation is concerned with testing chemical totalizer of radiation (Frankfurt radiometer) for use in measuring the components of a simple energy balance (latent heat = net radiation – sensible heat) so as to gain an estimate for evaporation. The meter is based on the temperature dependence of the inversion rate of sugar solution. The relationship is exponential. It was found that radiation sums for 2–6-day periods can be reliably determined with this meter when global radiation is below 20 MJ·m-2d-1. Determining sensible heat is noticeably inaccurate, and hence the calculation of evaporation values, too. In comparing evaporation from different types of ground and plant cover one thus has to be content with drawing conclusions on the basis of net radiation values. The totalizer is therefore only suited to describing radiation conditions.
The PDF includes a summary in Finnish.
The significance of water budget in June and July for forest and peatland vegetation, and consequent effects on fauna, climate and agriculture has been studied.
In June, the difference between evaporation and precipitation is greater than it is later in the summer. North of the line zero difference of evaporation and precipitation, coinciding with a line of sharp change in forest vegetation, the uppermost part of podsol remains wet throughout the summer. During July, the line of zero difference moves from north to south over the greater part of Finland, run-off being minute and podsol at the driest in this month. This line, indicating the length of the period with evaporation greater than precipitation and causing a sharp change in forest vegetation, in frequency of peatlands, amount of growing stock productive capacity of forests etc. This line is significant also for cultivation: because of the lower evaporation north of this line, night temperature below the freezing point often appear in summer.
The PDF includes a summary in English.