Recovery and active layer changes following a tundra fire in northwestern Alaska
Document Type: Conference Paper
Author(s): L. Johnson; L. Viereck
Publication Year: 1983

Cataloging Information

  • erosion
  • fire intensity
  • lichens
  • lightning
  • lightning caused fires
  • Marchantia polymorpha
  • mortality
  • mosses
  • post fire recovery
  • regeneration
  • rivers
  • sampling
  • season of fire
  • seasonal activities
  • shrubs
  • soil temperature
  • soils
  • species diversity (plants)
  • statistical analysis
  • tundra
Record Maintained By:
Record Last Modified: June 1, 2018
FRAMES Record Number: 34305
Tall Timbers Record Number: 8531
TTRS Location Status: In-file
TTRS Call Number: Fire File DDW
TTRS Abstract Status: Okay, Fair use, 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.


An uplant tundra fire, started by lightning, burned 48 km2 near the Kokolik River in northwestern Alaska during late July and early August 1977. Permanent plots were established to monitor recovery of severely, moderately, and lightly burned areas as well as unburned tundra. During the following 5 years the original permanent plots and other portions of the burn were observed annually. Vegetative recovery was most rapid and active layer effects were least on the moist sedge-shrub tundra. Recovery was slower on a high-centered polygonal area and on severely burned tussock tundra. By August 1979 the sedge-shrub vegetation had largely recovered while both the polygonal ground and the tussock tundra were still readily recognizable as burned areas. Accelerated hydraulic and thermal erosion had occurred on some slopes, resulting in exposures of massive bodies of ground ice. Active layer ticknesses averaged 27 cm in the unburned areas and 35 cm within severely burned areas in August 1977 and reached a maximu at all but one site in August 1979. Depth of thaw decreased between 1979 and 1982 in the sedge-shrub tundra and in the lightly burned shrub tundra and remained at the same increased level through 1982 at all other sites.

Johnson, L., and L. Viereck. 1983. Recovery and active layer changes following a tundra fire in northwestern Alaska, Permafrost: Fourth International Conference, Proceedings. National Academy Press,Washington, DC.