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New spatial analysis of wildfires across the Arctic in May/June 2020, and how they compare to the satellite record (2003-2020). What is burning? Are there peat fires? What about permafrost? 🔥🛰️thread in collab with @m_parrington @CopernicusECMWF #ArcticFires [1/9]
The Arctic Circle is an ecologically arbitrary line, so I also investigated fires burning north of the treeline, using @NSIDC's tundra & boreal forest boundary, a better representation of the Arctic Zone. May/June 2020 saw 10x more fires than 2003-18 average for this zone. [2/9]
Using a Global Landcover dataset, we see corroborating evidence that the spike in fire activity in 2019/20 occurred in both the boreal forest (tree cover) and tundra (herbaceous & shrub cover) ecosystems of the Arctic Circle [3/9]
Peat soils are widespread in Arctic & Boreal biomes. We can use a global peatland map to determine proportion of the fires burning on mapped areas known to contain peat. Around half of the fires are on peat soils, with a big increase in total fires on peat in 2019 & 2020 [4/9]
Some of these fires will have ignited underlying peat soils, although the area affected is difficult to determine from satellites. High-res imagery from @Sentinel_hub shows substantial areas of residual smouldering & fire spots burning long after the main fire has passed [5/9]
A map of permafrost from @NSIDC can be used to delineate whether fires are burning on continuous vs discontinuous permafrost, & the ice loading of those areas. Almost all of the fires in 2019 & 2020 were on continuous permafrost with high ice loading [6/9]
Finally, if we look at the latitudinal distribution of all May/June fires north of 60-degrees. We can see a very unusual distribution in 2019 & 2020, a noticeable shift to the north. Watch the animation in the next tweet... [7/9]
Here's an animation of high latitude May/June fires accumulating from 2003 to 2020, watch the Arctic fires emerging in 2019 and 2020 at the end of the animation. [8/9]
Data sources:
🔥@NASAEarth Fire hotspots processed by @M_parrington @CopernicusECMWF
🛰️Global Landcover @EU_ScienceHub:…
🌲Treeline and Permafrost @NSIDC:
🍂Global peat map (Yu et al., 2010:…)
High resolution version of this animation can be found here:…
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