‘Wake-up call’ for managing Arctic fires 


Ted Schuur

Published on August 5, 2011

For the first time in nearly 10,000 years, wildfires are again occurring in the Arctic. In a new study of the Anaktuvuk River fire, which covered more than 400 square miles on Alaska’s North Slope, Ted Schuur (2011) and his colleagues found that when soil there burned, it released about twice as much carbon as the volume of greenhouse gases produced by the city of Miami in a year. According to the researchers, the loss of soil could cause the release of additional carbon that has been stored for hundreds or thousands of years in the permafrost -- frozen ground beneath the soil organic layer -- and accelerate global warming. The team hopes their findings will start a dialogue about managing tundra fires.