Wildfire incidence in western Kalaallit Nunaat (Greenland) from 1995 to 2020

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Abstract

Background: Recent widely reported large tundra fires in western Greenland have focused attention on the fire regime in a region that is currently underrepresented in global fire research.

Aims: We present an analysis of fire incidence from 1995 to 2020.

Methods: A combination of satellite remote sensing and a review of reports in the online version of the national newspaper, Sermitsiaq.AG were used to identify wildfires.

Key results: Our analysis did not detect fires from 1995-2007. From 2008, 21 separate fire events were identified in selected study areas covering ~47% of ice-free western Greenland. All but four of the 21 fires ignited in July or August during periods of warm and dry weather.

Conclusions: We find no evidence of fires in our study areas until 2008, after which fires occur in most years.

Implications: Projected warming and reduced summer precipitation in this region in upcoming decades suggest the landscape will become increasingly prone to tundra fires.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Wildland Fire
Early online date11 Oct 2022
DOIs
Publication statusEarly online - 11 Oct 2022

Keywords

  • wildfire
  • tundra
  • remote sensing
  • Arctic
  • western Greenland

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