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Mechanisms controlling tundra fire outbreaks

What mechanisms control ignitability and flammability of tundra vegetation?

2015  -   2019
Nadia Soudzilovskaia
  • Hans Cornelissen, VU University Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  • Johan Olofsson, UmeĆ„ University, Sweden

Short Abstract

Tundra fires are among the most severe natural hazards, causing tremendous release of carbon into the atmosphere. This project aims to improve our understanding of mechanisms triggering tundra fire outbreaks.

Project Description

Fires directly and seriously damage polar ecosystems, endanger people and cause sudden and large carbon emissions into the atmosphere, thereby amplifying climate change. Considering the large scale and impact of these potential damages, and the predicted increase of tundra fire frequency due to climate change, it is critically important to understand the mechanisms controlling ignitability of tundra vegetation. In this project we investigate what types of tundra vegetation are more prone to natural fires and what mechanisms underpin development of highly ignitable tundra vegetation.


  1. We investigate flammability of field-collected tundra plants under strictly controlled laboratory conditions, seeking to understand which functional traits control plants moisture retention and flammability; and
  2. we analyze  which environmental conditions including predation by animals cause development of highly ignitable tundra vegetation stand.