Very Large Fires All Across Southern Alaska
The 2015 Alaska fire season is already the third-largest season since reliable records began in 1950, and more than 4.75 million acres have burned.
The Alaska Interagency Coordination Center was tracking 290 fires in Alaska on July 25, with "very large" fires spread across southern Alaska, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. The 2015 Alaska fire season is already the third-largest season since reliable records began in 1950, and more than 4.75 million acres have burned. That amount of acreage is more than double the size of Yellowstone National Park and larger than the state of New Jersey, which consists of only 4.492 million acres.
According to USGS, there is not a direct relationship between climate change and fire, "but researchers have found strong correlations between warm June temperatures and large fire years. Hot, dry spring conditions, however, do not automatically mean fire—something needs to create the spark and actually start the fire. Lightning starts about 35 percent of the fires in Alaska but account for 90 percent of the total area burned."
Wildfires can alter wildlife habitat, such as by destroying slow-growing lichens in black spruce forests, an important winter food source for caribou.
The fires being tracked are shown on this UAFSMOKE page. It is an initiative supported by the Arctic Region Supercomputing Center and the Geophysical Institute of the University of Alaska Fairbanks, in cooperation with colleagues from NOAA's Global System Division, Brazil's Center for Weather Forecasting and Climate Studies (CPTEC/INPE), and the USFS Missoula Fire Sciences Lab.