Observed links between heatwaves and wildfires across Northern high latitudes

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Abstract / Description of output

Data on Arctic and Sub-Arctic summer heat events are limited due to the sparse network of surface observation stations. Here, we analyze large heat events within 60°–80°N using land surface temperature (LST) observations from the moderate resolution imaging spectroradiometer (MODIS) sensor aboard the Terra satellite. Our heatwave (HW) detection method uses exceedances of the climatological 90th percentile of LST across summer months, and a spatio-temporal density-based clustering algorithm to distinguish space-time coherent events across Northern Hemispheric high latitudes for the summers of 2000–2022. We find a close link between HW duration, spatial extent and amplitude across the study region (correlations ranging from 0.63 to 0.73). MODIS-derived burned area data show that wildfire seasons are significantly correlated to summer HW activity, particularly in Siberia (r = 0.87 at p < 0.05) and Alaska and NW Canada (r = 0.45 at p < 0.05), and are also spatially co-located. MODIS active fire data also show substantial increase during larger heat events. For the strongest HWs in Siberia, the peak in daily fire count (from the MODIS active fire archive) lags behind peak HW activity. We conclude that there is a close link between intense fire summers and extensive HWs over boreal and shrub tundra regions (Interior Alaska, the Canadian Prairies and Eastern Siberia).
Original languageEnglish
Article number034041
JournalEnvironmental Research Letters
Volume19
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2024

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