a wildfire burns trees

Boreal forest fire - Credit: Scott Rupp

Funded Title: 
Wildfire Projections in Interior Alaska (Host Agreement project)
Interior Alaska
August 1, 2017 to July 31, 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.

May 1, 2012 to April 1, 2013

The Greenhouse gases Observing Satellite (GOSAT) affords an ability to assess and monitor CH4 and CO2 near-surface atmospheric concentrations globally on monthly scales pertaining to biogeochemical cycles and anthropogenic emissions. In addition to GOSAT our investigation incorporates global-monthly estimates of evapotranspiration (ET) from the Moderate Resolution Spectroradiometer (MODIS) and fire/wildfire locations for correspondence and comparison. We restrict the investigation to the months of June and July in years 2009, 2010 and 2011.

Western Kenai Peninsula, Alaska
December 1, 2011 to June 1, 2013

My Alaska CASC project focused on understanding how a massive spruce bark beetle outbreak on the Kenai Peninsula has affected subsequent wildfire occurrence (Fig. 1). My research suggests that bark beetle outbreaks, particularly in stands where the outbreak lasted for more than one year, were associated with modest increases in wildfire occurrence. Though, many other factors, including vegetation type and climate also played critical roles. This research suggests that in contrast with the Rocky Mountain West, bark beetles can lead to increased wildfire probability.

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