Projecting Future Wildfire Activity in Alaska’s Boreal Forest

a wildfire burns trees

Boreal forest fire - Credit: Scott Rupp

Funded Title: 
Wildfire Projections in Interior Alaska (Host Agreement project)
Location: 
Interior Alaska
Duration: 
Aug 2017 to Jul 2022

Wildfires are a natural occurrence in interior Alaska’s boreal forest. There is extreme variability in the severity of the wildfire season in this region. A single year in which more than one million acres of forest burns can be followed by several years of low to moderate fire activity. In addition, fires in high latitude zones appear to be responding to changes in climate. Warmer temperatures rapidly cure understory fuels, such as fast-drying beds of mosses, lichens, and shrubs, which lie beneath highly flammable conifer trees.
 
Managing such variability is challenging in light of both changing climate conditions and the fact that planning activities require sufficient advance warning. The goal of this project is to support short-term wildfire planning in the region through the use of seasonal forecast modeling, and to support long-term planning using projections of future climate conditions.