An intensified pattern of wildfire is emerging in Alaska as rapidly increasing temperatures and longer growing seasons alter the state’s environment, says a new report co-authored by the Alaska Center for Climate Assessment and Policy (a CPO Regional Integrated Sciences and Assessments (RISA) team), in partnership with the Alaska Fire Science Consortium, International Arctic Research Center, and the University of Alaska, Fairbanks. The report highlights recent wildfire trends in Alaska, their impacts to humans and wildlife, and the strong relationship between wildfire managers and scientists to improve fire-related decision making. It looks into the phases of fire in Alaska, with a primary focus on rapidly changing wildfire patterns emerging in the 21st century, and draws upon earlier histories of management, climate, and fire for context.
Both tundra and boreal forest regions are seeing larger and more frequent fires. The impacts of these fires are felt across the state. Alaska’s wildland fire environment presents many unique opportunities and challenges. In response to changing wildfire patterns, Alaska’s fire management agencies are adapting quickly. Remote sensing tools, such as data from satellites, and science-based decision making have been a critical component in responding to intensified wildfire seasons.