Dr. Susan Ziegler
Canada Research Chair in Environmental Science
Studying the impact of climate change on natural organic matter in boreal forest landscapes and associated aquatic ecosystems.
Research relevance: This research aims to increase understanding of the impact of climate change on forest and aquatic environments in boreal zones, and provide information to improve policy.
How climate change is affecting Canada's Boreal Zones
Talk of climate change typically brings to mind melting icebergs and unpredictable weather. However, Dr. Susan Ziegler, Canada Research Chair in Environmental Science, is taking a different approach to climate change by studying its impact on organic carbon sources in boreal zones.
Ziegler is studying the soil and stream water in boreal forests and their associated aquatic ecosystems to determine how boreal zones are responding to climate change – and to assess the impact these changes may have on the climate.
Soil in the boreal forest is usually rich in carbon-based nutrients that are essential to forest regeneration and sustainability and in regulating water quality. Ziegler has discovered that warming can increase the loss of critical soil carbon pools, potentially leading to changes in atmospheric carbon dioxide, climate and boreal forest ecosystems.
Given that 35 per cent of Canada is comprised of boreal forest, it is essential that we understand the impact that climate change is having on its aquatic and terrestrial environment. Forestry, fishing and water supplies are all directly affected by the quality of soil and aquatic organic carbon.
Ziegler’s research will improve understanding of the changes underway in boreal zones and lead to better management of the changes that affect their ecosystems as well as the industries that rely on them.