Tundra Fire, Kaminak
During the summer of 1973, in the Kaminak Lake region, daily temperatures were abnormally high in June and July and there was little precipitation (Shilts, 1975; and Shilts and Boydell, 1974). At 0500 hours on August 2, a short, strong thunderstorm passed over the countryside and lightning ignited several fires between Baker Lake and the Manitoba border. By mid-afternoon of August 2, 1973, several columns of smoke appeared, such as the one shown here, which was photographed from an altitude of roughly 300 m. In this image, the larger column of "smoke" has a significant component of water vapor generated as a fire was sweeping across an alluvial flat where dried grasses and sedges from the previous growing season(s), matted among living vegetation, supplied abundant fuel. The wisps of smoke in the foreground are from burning turf that surrounds bare-centered mudboils (nonsorted circles) that form in the 1 m to 2 m-thick seasonally thawed (active) layer over permafrost that is over 300 m deep in this region (see extended explanation for Image 0240). This particular photo is Figure 8, p. 191, in Shilts, 1975. Additional references are Wein and Shilts, 1976, and Shilts and Boydell, 1974. In addition to the image shown here, please refer also to images 0057, 0058, 0101, 0102, 0103, 0104, 0105, and 0107 for details on the effects of tundra fires such as this.
Updated 03/30/2010 AW