Overwintering fires rising in eastern Siberia

Wenxuan Xu*, Rebecca C. Scholten, Thomas D. Hessilt, Yongxue Liu, Sander Veraverbeke

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Overwintering fires are a historically rare phenomenon but may become more prevalent in the warming boreal region. Overwintering fires have been studied to a limited extent in boreal North America; however, their role and contribution to fire regimes in Siberia are still largely unknown. Here, for the first time, we quantified the proportion of overwintering fires and their burned areas in Yakutia, eastern Siberia, using fire, lightning, and infrastructure data. Our results demonstrate that overwintering fires contributed to 3.2 ± 0.6% of the total burned area during 2012-2020 over Yakutia, compared to 31.4 ± 6.8% from lightning ignitions and 51.0 ± 6.9% from anthropogenic ignitions (14.4% of the burned area had unknown cause), but they accounted for 7.5 ± 0.7% of the burned area in the extreme fire season of 2020. In addition, overwintering fires have different spatiotemporal characteristics than lightning and anthropogenic fires, suggesting that overwintering fires need to be incorporated into fire models as a separate fire category when modelling future boreal fire regimes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number045005
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalEnvironmental Research Letters
Issue number4
Early online date1 Apr 2022
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was supported by the Key Research and Development Program of China (Grant No. 2019YFA0606601), the China Scholarship Council (CSC) (Grant No. 202006190242), and the Key Laboratory of Surveying and Mapping Science and Geospatial Information Technology of Ministry of Natural Resources (Grant No. 2020-3-1). The contributions of S V and R C S were funded by a Vidi grant (016.Vidi.189.070) from the Dutch Research Council awarded to S V. The contribution of T D H was funded as part of the Netherlands Earth System Science Center. We thank the following institutions/individuals for their public data set. MODIS burned area product (MCD64A1) are available from United States Geological Survey (USGS) ( https://lpdaac.usgs.gov/products/mcd64a1v006/ ). The VIIRS active fires product (VNP14IMG) is available from Fire Information for Resource Management System (FIRMS) ( https://earthdata.nasa.gov/firms ). Lightning data were retrieved from the global lightning detection network GLD360 developed by Vaisala ( www.vaisala.com/en/products/systems/lightning/gld360 ) for which permissions can be obtained by Vaisala. Infrastructure data are available for Yakutia from the OpenStreetMap Data Extracts ( https://download.geofabrik.de/index.html ). The snow cover product (MCD10A1) and derived snow melt dates are available through Google Earth Engine (GEE) and processed based on a script adapted from the GitHub account provided by Dr Koen Hufkens ( https://github.com/khufkens/MCD10A1/tree/v1.1 ).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Author(s). Published by IOP Publishing Ltd.


  • eastern Siberia
  • fire attributions
  • overwintering fires
  • spatiotemporal characteristics


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