EGU24-7215, updated on 08 Mar 2024
EGU General Assembly 2024
© Author(s) 2024. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Abrupt increase in Arctic-Subarctic wildfires following permafrost thawing in a warmer climate

In-Won Kim1,2, Axel Timmermann1,2, Ji-Eun Kim1,2, Keith Rodgers1,2, Sun-Seon Lee1,2, Hanna Lee3, and William Wieder4
In-Won Kim et al.
  • 1IBS Center for Climate Physics (ICCP), Busan, Republic of Korea
  • 2Pusan National University, Busan, Republic of Korea
  • 3Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, Norway
  • 4Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research, University of Colorado Boulder, Boulder, USA

Greenhouse warming is accelerating permafrost thaw and the risk of wildfires in the northern high latitudes. However, the impact of permafrost thaw on Arctic-Subarctic wildfires and the associated release of greenhouse gases and aerosols is less well understood. Here we investigate the effect of future permafrost thaw on Arctic-Subarctic wildfires using the CESM2 large ensemble simulations forced by the SSP3-7.0 greenhouse gas emission scenario. We find that an increase in soil permeability induced by rapid permafrost thawing leads to an abrupt increase in sub-surface runoff and a decrease in soil moisture over the Arctic-Subarctic region. This sudden soil drying causes a significant increase in surface air temperature and a decrease in relative humidity during summer. The resulting soil drying and atmospheric dryness lead to a rapid intensification of wildfires in western Siberia and Canada in the mid-to-late 21st century.

How to cite: Kim, I.-W., Timmermann, A., Kim, J.-E., Rodgers, K., Lee, S.-S., Lee, H., and Wieder, W.: Abrupt increase in Arctic-Subarctic wildfires following permafrost thawing in a warmer climate, EGU General Assembly 2024, Vienna, Austria, 14–19 Apr 2024, EGU24-7215,, 2024.