Wildfires Collaboration Team

Researching effects of wildfires on local communities in the Arctic

Scope of Activities

Experimental burn plot

Photo by Mark Paricio (PolarTREC 2012), Courtesy of ARCUS

The Wildfires Collaboration Team (WCT) addresses research gaps and areas for improvement in knowledge relating to wildfire activity, succession, and effects on local communities in the Arctic, specifically focusing on the tundra environment. The team focuses on tundra rather than the wider forested Arctic as that latter is well coordinated through the Arctic Fire Science Consortium and the former is not.


This team has no leaders

Deliverables from the Arctic Research Plan


Burned trees

Photo by Birte Horn-Hanssen

During 2016, the Wildfires Collaboration Team built upon previously collected research summaries and gaps analysis and focused on opportunities to promote research on identified gaps in Arctic fire science. Eight monthly meetings were held. February’s meeting featured a webinar by Dave McGuire of the University of Alaska Fairbanks on the status of the Land Carbon Project, an ambitious effort led by the Alaska Climate Science Center to estimate the entire carbon balance in Alaska and chart its future in a warmer climate using an integrated ecosystem model. May’s meeting was a double feature with presentations by two graduate students on their work regarding Air Pollution from Wildfires and Human Health Implications in Alaskan Communities (Lucia Woo, Yale) and Spatial Temporal Dynamics of Wildfire Activities in the Arctic Tundra Biome Using MODIS data (Arif Masrur, UNI).

The WCT guided development of a proposal for Milestone: 3.2.4.g Convene an international, interdisciplinary workshop with remote sensing scientists, ecologists, hydrologists, agency fire managers and decision-makers on new opportunities to use remote sensing in boreal/arctic wildfire management and science. Subgroups held additional meetings with collaborators from US and Canada to hammer out a proposal. That effort came to fruition in September when the workshop proposal was funded by NASA’s Applied Sciences office and calls for abstracts are now out for the April, 2017 workshop in Fairbanks. With the Arctic Science Summit and Artic Observing Summit meeting in Fairbanks in March, 2016, the WCT prepared a poster summarizing human impacts of increased fire disturbance in arctic/subarctic environments. Team products and presentation recordings are hosted on the IARPC website. We continued to make progress on other milestones: Milestone 3.2.4.b was completed with BLM-Alaska Fire Service funding master's student Alyssa Shanks to study wildfire impacts to indigenous Arctic communities under UAF’s Resilience and Adaptation Program. The report is posted on the website. Eric Miller summarized data needs for high latitude fire management and gave a presentation to the Arctic Data Collaboration team September 15th, 2016. 

Priorities for 2017

The Wildfires Team will continue with monthly teleconferences through 2016, with continued emphasis on webinars which foster scientist/stakeholder communication and lead to actionable science. The “Opportunities to Apply Remote Sensing in Boreal/Arctic Wildfire Management and Science Workshop” (Milestone 3.2.4.g, above) will be April 4-6, 2017. Under Arctic Research Plan 2017-2021, the WCT will continue discussions with other teams, including the TECT and Arctic Data for future direction and collaboration efforts. 

Key Documents

  1. Wildfire Sensor Systems | Ambrosia et al | Report
  2. List of data/resources for fire frequency, extent and severity for Alaska | IARPC Wildfire Collaboration Team | Data
  3. List of sources of information and key Alaska studies on post-fire succession in tundra | IARPC Wildfires Collaboration Team | Data
  4. Research Gap Analysis of Tundra Fire Studies, Datasets, and Tools | IARPC Wildfires Collaboration Team | Report
  5. Alaska Fire Remote Sensing Workshop | Jandt | Pre-proposal