EGU General Assembly 2021
© Author(s) 2021. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Intensifying fire regimes in the arctic-boreal zone: recent changes, global implications, and possible solutions

Brendan Rogers1, Molly Elder2, Peter Frumhoff3, Thomas Gasser4, Elena Kukavskaya5, Erin MacDonald1, Michelle Mack6, Susan Natali1, Carly Phillips7, Rebecca Scholten8, Rachael Treharne1, Sander Veraverbeke8, and Xanthe Walker6
Brendan Rogers et al.
  • 1Woodwell Climate Research Center, Falmouth, United States of America
  • 2The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University, Medford, United States of America
  • 3Union of Concerned Scientists, Cambridge, United States of America
  • 4International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, Laxenburg, Austria
  • 5V.N. Sukachev Institute of Forest, Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Krasnoyarsk, Russia
  • 6Center for Ecosystem Science and Society, Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, United States of America
  • 7Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions, University of Victoria, Victoria, Canada
  • 8Faculty of Science, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Amsterdam, the Netherlands

Across much of the high latitudes, wildfires have been increasing in frequency, area burned, and severity in response to longer fire seasons, more severe fire weather, and increased ignitions. These fires not only affect the tundra and boreal forests they burn, but also global climate due to the high levels of carbon emitted during combustion that take decades to re-aggrade. Carbon emissions from high latitude fires are generally not included in global models that inform policy nor emissions reductions commitments from relevant countries. In this presentation we describe recent progress and critical unknowns related to intensifying fire regimes in high latitude ecosystems, with a particular focus on (i) trends in burned area and large fire years; (ii) changing ignitions sources including lightning, human, and overwintering fires; (iii) patterns and drivers of carbon emissions, including interactions with permafrost; (iv) implications for global carbon budgets; and (v) potential climate mitigation through increased resources for carbon-focused fire management.

How to cite: Rogers, B., Elder, M., Frumhoff, P., Gasser, T., Kukavskaya, E., MacDonald, E., Mack, M., Natali, S., Phillips, C., Scholten, R., Treharne, R., Veraverbeke, S., and Walker, X.: Intensifying fire regimes in the arctic-boreal zone: recent changes, global implications, and possible solutions, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-6404,, 2021.