Fire in arctic tundra of Alaska: past fire activity, future fire potential, and significance for land management and ecology
Document Type: Journal Article
Author(s): Nancy H. F. French; Liza K. Jenkins; Tatiana V. Loboda; Michael D. Flannigan; Randi R. Jandt; Laura L. Bourgeau-Chavez; Matthew A. Whitley
Publication Year: 2015

Cataloging Information

  • Arctic
  • climate change
  • fire frequency
  • fire management
  • fire potential
  • fire regime
  • fire size
  • fire weather
  • land management
  • tundra
  • wildfires
Record Maintained By:
Record Last Modified: August 22, 2018
FRAMES Record Number: 21289
Tall Timbers Record Number: 32142
TTRS Location Status: In-file
TTRS Call Number: Journals - I
TTRS Abstract Status: Fair use, Okay, Reproduced by permission

This bibliographic record was either created or modified by the Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy and is provided without charge to promote research and education in Fire Ecology. The E.V. Komarek Fire Ecology Database is the intellectual property of the Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy.


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. A detailed review of fire records in these regions is presented, and an analysis of future fire potential was performed based on future climate scenarios. The average size of tundra fire based on the data record is 22 km2 (5454 acres). Fires show a mean size of 10 km2 (2452 acres) and median of 0.064 km2 (16 acres), indicating small fires are common. Although uncommon, 16 fires larger than 300 km2 (74,132 acres) have been recorded across four ecoregions and all five decades. Warmer summers with extended periods of drying are expected to increase fire activity as indicated by fire weather index. The implications of the current fire regime and potential changes in fire regime are discussed in the context of land management and ecosystem services. Current fire management practices and land-use planning in Alaska should be specifically tailored to the tundra region based on the current fire regime and in anticipation of the expected change in fire regime projected with climate change.

Online Link(s):
French, Nancy H. F.; Jenkins, Liza K.; Loboda, Tatiana V.; Flannigan, Michael D.; Jandt, Randi R.; Bourgeau-Chavez, Laura L.; Whitley, Matthew A. 2015. Fire in arctic tundra of Alaska: past fire activity, future fire potential, and significance for land management and ecology. International Journal of Wildland Fire 24(8):1045-1061.