Tundra fires tend to occur naturally in the area, but climate change may also contribute to the greater intensity of recent phenomena. University of Illinois plant biology professor Feng Sheng Hu claims a dramatic, nonlinear relationship occurs between climate conditions and tundra fires that make dead vegetation more flammable and fire prone.
National Geographic notes that tundra basically consists of frozen bogs with little vegetation diversity but form one of the most sensitive habitats on the planet. In fact, the government of Canada shows that the tundra areas of the Northwest Territories often find themselves susceptible to various natural disasters, including floods, landslides, severe storms and wildfires. Because of the tundra's sensitivity, the area finds itself facing many other threats, such as the melting of the permafrost as a result of global warming.
National Geographic also notes that air pollution may also cause smog clouds that contaminate lichen, a significant food source for many animals in the tundra. Invasive species not naturally found in the area push aside native vegetation and reduce diversity of plant cover, which hurts the ecosystem since it responds to changes slowly. Physical disturbances and habitat fragmentation also occur from oil, gas and minerals exploration, as well as construction of pipelines and roads.