About 30% of global carbon stocks reside in the vegetation and deep, carbon-rich soils of Arctic tundra and boreal forest biomes. Wildfires—which are becoming more frequent with warmer and drier weather in the Arctic—have the potential to either stabilize or accelerate regional and global warming through carbon feedbacks. By comparing the impact of fire in the boreal forests of Interior Alaska, where fire has been common for the past 10,000 years, with Alaska’s North Slope, where fire is a novel disturbance, researchers are understanding the ways that fire interacts with plant species composition, nutrient availability, and permafrost integrity to influence ecological and climate stability.


Michelle Mack, Northern Arizona University, Bonanza Creek LTER