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NASA Studies How Arctic Wildfires Change the World

13 August 2019

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Wildfires in the Arctic often burn far away from populated areas, but their impacts are felt around the globe. From field and laboratory work to airborne campaigns and satellites, NASA is studying why boreal forests and tundra fires have become more frequent and powerful and what that means for climate forecasting, ecosystems and human health.

"Fires are a natural part of the ecosystem, but what we're seeing is an accelerated fire cycle: we are getting more frequent and severe fires and larger burned areas," said Liz Hoy, a boreal fire researcher at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. Hoy works with NASA's Arctic-Boreal Vulnerability Experiment (ABoVE), a comprehensive field campaign that probes the resilience of Arctic and boreal ecosystems and societies to environmental change.

Source: NASA

Image credit: NASA/ Peter Griffith - In 2014, megafires in Canada's Northwest Territories scorched more than 7 million acres of forest, releasing half as much carbon back into the atmosphere as all the plants and trees in Canada typically absorb in an entire year.