Thursday, July 30, 2009

Alaskan tundra fires rage - Global Warming fears

Alaskan tundra fires rage (Image: MODIS Rapid Response Team / Goddard Space Flight Center / NASA)

Alaskan tundra fires rage. Fueling Global Warming by increasing levels of Carbon Dioxide in the Atmosphere. (Image: MODIS Rapid Response Team / Goddard Space Flight Center / NASA)

The fire that raged north of Alaska's Brooks mountain range in 2007 left a 1000-square-kilometre scorched patch of earth – an area larger than the sum of all known fires on Alaska's North Slope since 1950.

Carbon Dioxide increase

Now scientists studying the ecological impact of the fire report that the blaze dumped 1.3 million tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere – about the amount that Barbados puts out in a year. What's more, at next week's meeting of the Ecological Society of America in Albuquerque, New Mexico, two teams will warn that as climate change takes hold tundra fires across the Arctic will become more frequent.

Increased Frequency of Fires

Tundra fires only take off once certain thresholds are reached, says Adrian Rocha of the Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole, Massachusetts. "But projected changes in climate over the next century – increased aridity, thunderstorms, and warming in the Arctic – will increase the likelihood that these thresholds will be crossed and thus result in more larger and frequent fires."

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