Why Arctic fires are releasing more carbon than ever

By Manas Sharma, Gloria Dickie, Adolfo Arranz and Simon Scarr
September 7, 2022
Category: Carbon, Climate & Bioenergy
Region: United States, International

Smoke from hundreds of wildfires darkened skies over the Alaskan Interior this summer, with the state experiencing its fastest start to the fire season on record amid hot and dry conditions. Tens of thousands of lightning strikes ignited the majority of active fires, according to the Bureau of Land Management Alaska Fire Service. …With climate change raising Arctic temperatures faster than the global average, wildfires are shifting poleward where the flames blaze through boreal forest and tundra and release vast amounts of greenhouse gases from the carbon-rich organic soil. …Arctic wildfires that sparked above the 66th parallel north unleashed an estimated 16 million tonnes of carbon in 2021. …Though the charred boreal forests and tundra still represent just 3% of the global area burned each year, the richness of their soils means those wildfires account for roughly 15% of the world’s annual carbon emissions from fires — and that number is growing.

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