Alaska experiences extremely variable and increasingly active wildland fire seasons, with 6.6 million acres burned in 2004 and 5.1 million in 2015 respectively. The majority of acres burn in relatively brief periods of extremely warm and dry weather. Our hypothesis is that there are localized weather characteristic and identifiable large-scale weather patterns conducive to such rapid wildfire growth. The likelihood of these patterns can be the target of forecasts over periods of several days to several weeks in order to inform decision-makers and other potentially affected stakeholders.
The Hollings Scholars utilized an existing database of daily wildfire acreage back to at least the 1990s. They identified sub-monthly periods of rapid wildfire growth in both boreal and tundra ecosystems and performed analysis of associated atmospheric conditions and synoptic weather patterns using online and UAF available meteorological reanalysis data. This presentation will present the findings of their work.