U of G Ecologist Speaks on Arctic Wildfires to Vice

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Prof. Merritt Turetsky, Integrative Biology

Scientists are calling the number of wildfires burning in the Arctic Circle unprecedented. U of G Prof. Merritt Turetsky, Department of Integrative Biology, is among the experts featured in a Vice story on the subject.

More than 100 wildfires have been burning for weeks across the Arctic Circle, sending dense clouds of carbon dioxide and other harmful emissions into the atmosphere. Some fires are more than 100,000 hectares in size.

“Not only are fuels getting drier and more flammable under warmer conditions, but in many places increasing shrub cover has the potential to increase fire activity,” Turetsky said in the story.

While some fires are normal for the Arctic, extreme temperatures and rapid warming are creating conditions for out-of-control blazes, according to the Vice story. Under present conditions, the fires start easily, often ignited by lightning or sparks from a campfire.

An ecosystem ecologist, Turetsky studies climate change across Canada’s arctic and boreal biomes, including effects on soil health and water quality.