Warmer and drier conditions have already led to increases in fire activity in many high latitude regions, and fire activity across large regions of the Eurasian and North American high latitudes is projected to increase over the coming century. High latitude fires are a pathway by which extreme heat events may produce Arctic climatic feedbacks and affect Arctic societal health. Understanding how changes in fire activity relate to changes in the climate and terrestrial environment requires interdisciplinary understanding of the complex interactions in the high latitude climate system and ecosystems.
To address these issues, the HiFACE (High latitude fires, Arctic climate, environment, and health) workshop was held on 28th March 2022 in Tromso, Norway, co-sponsored by the Leverhulme Centre for Wildfires, the air Pollution in the Arctic: Climate, Environment and Societies (PACES) initiative, and the Belmont Forum ACRoBEAR project. The aims of the workshop were to share current state-of-the-art understanding on high latitude fire impacts on climate, ecosystems and air quality, and to explore inter-disciplinary linkages that could help drive forward new research on this topic. The hybrid workshop was attended by around 30 participants from across the climate science, air pollution, ecosystem, fire science, health, and social science communities. The workshop featured 12 research presentations and active discussion around four key themes: 1. Measuring and monitoring high-latitude fire and fire impact trends – past and presen, 2.Drivers of high-latitude fires and fire risk, 3. Climate–vegetation-fire interactions, feedback and response and 4.Societal vulnerability, health impacts and responses to high latitude fire.
- Sharing of new understanding to help improve knowledge of poorly understood Earth system feedbacks and interactions associated with high latitude fires and their emissions.
- Recognition that Arctic remoteness presents unique risks, challenges, and impact pathways associated with wildfires.
- Discussion on interdisciplinary challenges and research priorities associated with high latitude fires, and synthesis of priority themes to be addressed in a position paper.
As part of the workshop discussion an outline for position paper was developed interactively, which will aim to map out the key research priorities around high latitude fire and its impacts. The paper is now under development, and will be completed and submitted ahead of the next ASSW in 2023.