in 2007, the largest fire ever recorded in the Arctic swept across the Alaskan Northern Slope region, releasing an estimated 2.1 teragrams (2.3 million tons) of carbon into the atmosphere. Researchers estimate that the release of carbon was equivalent to a year’s worth of carbon storage for the entire Arctic tundra biome. Climate warming in the Arctic may lead to a greater frequency of such large fires, putting permafrost at risk of thawing and releasing more CO2.
The scientists used a general circulation model known as ModelE (developed at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, New York). The model calculates ocean-atmosphere coupling effects in addition to allowing varying aerosol inputs.
The initial input for the simulation was 5 teragrams (megatons) of black carbon particles injected into Earth’s upper troposphere. This is the estimated result of the surface detonation of 100 Hiroshima-size bombs (each equivalent to 15K tons of TNT).