Novus Steering Committee Members Michelle Mack (Northern Arizona University) and Philip Higuera (University of Montana) and colleagues were recently interviewed for an article by Inside Climate News. The article, Global Warming to Spur More Fires in Alaska, in Turn Causing More Warming, highlights recent research by Higuera and other Novus participants modeling fire-climate relationships in boreal tundra (see citation below). The study found that regions currently showing low fire frequency are particularly vulnerable, with some regions showing a four-fold increase in fire frequency by the year 2100. Such increases in fire frequency could have serious global consequences for the terrestrial carbon cycle. For example, past studies by Mack (citation below) documented the ramifications of Anuktuvuk River fire in 2007, the largest tundra fire on record. Changes in fire frequency may also have negative consequences for tundra wildlife and people who live and work in the region, including indigenous communities.
Mack, MC, MS Bret-Harte, TN Hollingsworth, RR Jandt, EAG Schuur, GR Shaver, D Verbyla (2011) Carbon loss from an unprecedented Arctic tundra wildfire, Nature, 475: 489-492
Young, AM, PE Higuera, PA Duffy, FS Hu (in press) Climatic thresholds shape northern high-latitude fire regimes and imply vulnerability to future climate change. Ecography DOI: 10.1111/ecog.02205