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Article

Emerging Anthropogenic Influences on the Southcentral Alaska Temperature and Precipitation Extremes and Related Fires in 2019

1
Geophysical Institute, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Fairbanks, AK 99775, USA
2
Department of Atmospheric Sciences, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Fairbanks, AK 99775, USA
3
International Arctic Research Center, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Fairbanks, AK 99775, USA
4
Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska Anchorage, Anchorage, AK 99508, USA
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US Fish and Wildlife Service Alaska Region, Anchorage, AK 99503, USA
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Institute for Circumpolar Health Studies, University of Alaska Anchorage, Anchorage, AK 99508, USA
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The W. A. Franke College of Business, Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, AZ 86011, USA
8
Desert Research Institute, Reno, NV 89512, USA
9
Predictive Services at the Alaska Interagency Coordination Center, Alaska Fire Service, Fairbanks, AK 99703, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Land 2021, 10(1), 82; https://doi.org/10.3390/land10010082
Received: 23 December 2020 / Revised: 9 January 2021 / Accepted: 10 January 2021 / Published: 17 January 2021
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Fire in the Earth System: Humans and Nature)
The late-season extreme fire activity in Southcentral Alaska during 2019 was highly unusual and consequential. Firefighting operations had to be extended by a month in 2019 due to the extreme conditions of hot summer temperature and prolonged drought. The ongoing fires created poor air quality in the region containing most of Alaska’s population, leading to substantial impacts to public health. Suppression costs totaled over $70 million for Southcentral Alaska. This study’s main goals are to place the 2019 season into historical context, provide an attribution analysis, and assess future changes in wildfire risk in the region. The primary tools are meteorological observations and climate model simulations from the NCAR CESM Large Ensemble (LENS). The 2019 fire season in Southcentral Alaska included the hottest and driest June–August season over the 1979–2019 period. The LENS simulation analysis suggests that the anthropogenic signal of increased fire risk had not yet emerged in 2019 because of the CESM’s internal variability, but that the anthropogenic signal will emerge by the 2040–2080 period. The effect of warming temperatures dominates the effect of enhanced precipitation in the trend towards increased fire risk. View Full-Text
Keywords: boreal forest; wildland fire; climate change; drought; PM2.5; Buildup Index; SPEI; RCP 8.5; LENS; temperature; precipitation boreal forest; wildland fire; climate change; drought; PM2.5; Buildup Index; SPEI; RCP 8.5; LENS; temperature; precipitation
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MDPI and ACS Style

Bhatt, U.S.; Lader, R.T.; Walsh, J.E.; Bieniek, P.A.; Thoman, R.; Berman, M.; Borries-Strigle, C.; Bulock, K.; Chriest, J.; Hahn, M.; Hendricks, A.S.; Jandt, R.; Little, J.; McEvoy, D.; Moore, C.; Rupp, T.S.; Schmidt, J.; Stevens, E.; Strader, H.; Waigl, C.; White, J.; York, A.; Ziel, R. Emerging Anthropogenic Influences on the Southcentral Alaska Temperature and Precipitation Extremes and Related Fires in 2019. Land 2021, 10, 82. https://doi.org/10.3390/land10010082

AMA Style

Bhatt US, Lader RT, Walsh JE, Bieniek PA, Thoman R, Berman M, Borries-Strigle C, Bulock K, Chriest J, Hahn M, Hendricks AS, Jandt R, Little J, McEvoy D, Moore C, Rupp TS, Schmidt J, Stevens E, Strader H, Waigl C, White J, York A, Ziel R. Emerging Anthropogenic Influences on the Southcentral Alaska Temperature and Precipitation Extremes and Related Fires in 2019. Land. 2021; 10(1):82. https://doi.org/10.3390/land10010082

Chicago/Turabian Style

Bhatt, Uma S., Rick T. Lader, John E. Walsh, Peter A. Bieniek, Richard Thoman, Matthew Berman, Cecilia Borries-Strigle, Kristi Bulock, Jonathan Chriest, Micah Hahn, Amy S. Hendricks, Randi Jandt, Joseph Little, Daniel McEvoy, Chris Moore, T. S. Rupp, Jennifer Schmidt, Eric Stevens, Heidi Strader, Christine Waigl, James White, Alison York, and Robert Ziel. 2021. "Emerging Anthropogenic Influences on the Southcentral Alaska Temperature and Precipitation Extremes and Related Fires in 2019" Land 10, no. 1: 82. https://doi.org/10.3390/land10010082

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