Direct and longer-term carbon emissions from arctic-boreal fires: A short review of recent advances

Sander Veraverbeke, Clement J.F. Delcourt, Elena Kukavskaya, Michelle Mack, Xanthe Walker, Thomas Hessilt, Brendan Rogers, Rebecca C. Scholten

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


Increases in arctic-boreal fires can switch these biomes from a long-term carbon (C) sink to a source of atmospheric C through direct fire emissions and longer-term emissions from soil respiration. We here review advances made by the arctic-boreal fire science community over the last three years. Landscapes of intermediate drainage tend to experience the highest C combustion, dominated by soil C emissions, because of relatively thick and periodically dry organic soils. These landscapes may also induce a climate warming feedback through combustion and postfire respiration of legacy C, including from permafrost thaw and degradation. Legacy C is soil C that had escaped burning in the previous fire. Data shortages from fires in tundra ecosystems and Eurasian boreal forests limit our understanding of C emissions from arctic-boreal fires. Interactions between fire, topography, vegetation, soil, and permafrost need to be considered when estimating climate feedbacks of arctic-boreal fires.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number100277
JournalCurrent Opinion in Environmental Science and Health
StatePublished - Oct 2021


  • Arctic
  • Boreal
  • Carbon
  • Fire
  • Permafrost
  • Tundra

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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