Huge Arctic fire hints at new climate cue

Tundra burning

In the summer of 2007, more than 1,000 sq km of Alaskan tundra burned near Anaktuvuk River

By Richard Black
BBC News
28 July 2011

An exceptional wildfire in northern Alaska in 2007 put as much carbon into the air as the entire Arctic tundra absorbs in a year, scientists say.

The Anaktuvuk River fire burned across more than 1,000 sq km (400 sq miles), doubling the extent of Alaskan tundra visited by fire since 1950.

With the Arctic warming fast, the team suggests in the journal Nature that fires could become more common.

If that happens, it could create a new climate feedback, they say.(snip)

“Melting can lead to other huge changes… releasing carbon that’s been frozen since the Pleistoceneā€, said Michelle Mack of the University of Florida.
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