Counting Canada’s hidden tundra fires

By Ollie Williams
Cabin Radio
January 22, 2024
Category: Carbon, Climate & Bioenergy
Region: Canada

Most Northwest Territories communities facing any kind of wildfire threat are the ones in the boreal forest. That’s where the fuel and danger is. As a result, nobody has really been counting the tundra fires that occasionally appear north of the treeline. But those fires may be evolving, and that may have consequences that warrant our attention. Tundra fires burn across stretches of barren grassland. …As a result, recording them is tricky. Matthew Hethcoat and colleagues at Natural Resources Canada’s Northern Forestry Centre began by studying satellite images from 1986 to 2022. Before this work, there were around 60 recorded tundra fires north of Canada’s treeline between 1986 and 2022. The team found 209 new ones that hadn’t previously been noticed. …NWT wildfire specialist Matthew Coyle says, “There’s very much a possibility that tundra fires will be a concern in the future, just given the sheer amount of carbon and methane that’s stored in peat land”.

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