Featured case studies on the effects of fire in the Alaska Tundra from partners and cooperators
Wildfires occur less frequently in tundra areas of Alaska than in boreal forest, but the rapid climate warming and longer fire seasons we are now seeing are bringing more fire weather to tundra areas--not only in Western Alaska but also on the North Slope of Alaska--where they have been previously very rare. Tundra fire effects are sometimes not as obvious as forest fire effects, and most tundra plant species recover quickly after fire, yet, on some fires, impacts due to induction of soil warming, thermokarst and shifts induced in plant community make-up have the potential to transform the landscape.
Fire Effects Following Tundra Fires on Alaska's North Slope, 2007-2017 (Hot Off the Press!!)
Findings of Anaktuvuk River fire recovery study 2007-2011
The 2007 Anaktuvuk River Fire was an order of magnitude larger than the average fire size in the historic record for northern Alaska and indices of severity were substantially higher than for other recorded tundra burns. Jandt, et al. 2012
Step onto the North Slope with us while we run a transect
Fire behavior, weather, and burn severity of the 2007 Anaktuvuk River Tundra Fire, North Slope, Alaska
In 2007, the Anaktuvuk River Fire (ARF) became the largest recorded tundra fire on the North Slope of Alaska. The ARF burned for nearly three months, consuming more than 100,000 ha. Jones, et al. 2009
Tundra fire history over the past 6000 years in the Noatak National Preserve, northwestern Alaska
More than 5.4 million acres of Alaska tundra have burned over the past 60 years, indicating its flammable nature under warm, dry weather conditions.More than 5.4 million acres of Alaska tundra have burned over the past 60 years, indicating its flammable nature under warm, dry weather conditions. Tundra fires have important impacts on vegetation composition, permafrost dynamics, nutrient and carbon cycling, and wildlife populations.
Multi-decadal patterns of vegetation succession after tundra fire on the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta, Alaska
Alaska's Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta (YKD) is one of the warmest parts of the Arctic tundra biome and tundra fires are common in its upland areas. Here, we combine field measurements, Landsat observations, and quantitative cover maps for tundra plant functional types to characterize multi-decadal succession and landscape change after fire in lichen-dominated upland tundra of the YKD, where extensive wildfires occurred in 1971–1972, 1985, 2006–2007, and 2015. Frost, et al. 2020.
Fire in arctic tundra of Alaska: past fire activity, future fire potential, and significance for land management and ecology
More than 5.4 million acres of Alaska tundra have burned over the past 60 years , A multidecadal analysis of fire in Alaskan Arctic tundra was completed using records from the Alaska Large Fire Database. Tundra vegetation fires are defined by the Circumpolar Arctic Vegetation Map and divided into five tundra ecoregions of Alaska. French, et al. 2015