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
Pages (from-to)1033-1042
JournalInternational Journal of Wildland Fire
Volume31
Issue number11
Early online date11 Oct 2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2022

Keywords

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

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