According to the AP, the largest tundra fire ever recorded in Alaska is currently burning on the North Slope, and will likely continue to burn for several weeks.
Just last week, a forestry professor from Juneau testified before Congress on global warming and the changes it is bringing to Alaska, in a story reported in the Anchorage Daily News:
"The bottom line is, it is warmer, and it is
warmer a whole lot more," said Glen Juday, a professor of forest
ecology at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. "The warming is very
substantial, in temperature terms, and has reached, the last few years,
the highest values in the record."
The higher temperatures mean that permafrost
will melt, Juday said, simply because the sustained cold temperatures
needed to keep it frozen will no longer exist.
His most recent studies show that higher
temperatures have led to an increase in tundra fires; when tundra
burns, it also releases a tremendous amount of stored carbon dioxide.
This year alone, 100,000 acres of tundra burned, Juday said.
"The tundra is starting to burn and that
means, potentially, a very large amount of carbon could be released in
the atmosphere," further concentrating greenhouse gases in the
atmosphere, and further contributing to global warming, he said.
Here’s a photo of the fire from the Bureau of Land Management: