Charring temperatures are driven by the fuel types burned in a peatland wildfire

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Title: Charring temperatures are driven by the fuel types burned in a peatland wildfire
Authors: Hudspith, Victoria A.
Belcher, Claire M.
Yearsley, Jonathan M.
Permanent link: http://hdl.handle.net/10197/7356
Date: 2014
Abstract: Peatlands represent a globally important carbon store; however, the human exploitation of this ecosystem is increasing both the frequency and severity of fires on drained peatlands. Yet, the interactions between the hydrological conditions (ecotopes), the fuel types being burned, the burn severity, and the charring temperatures (pyrolysis intensity) remain poorly understood. Here we present a post-burn assessment of a fire on a lowland raised bog in Co. Offaly, Ireland (All Saints Bog). Three burn severities were identified in the field (light, moderate, and deeply burned), and surface charcoals were taken from 17 sites across all burn severities. Charcoals were classified into two fuel type categories (either ground or aboveground fuel) and the reflectance of each charcoal particle was measured under oil using reflectance microscopy. Charcoal reflectance shows a positive relationship with charring temperature and as such can be used as a temperature proxy to reconstruct minimum charring temperatures after a fire event. Resulting median reflectance values for ground fuels are 1.09 ± 0.32%Romedian, corresponding to estimated minimum charring temperatures of 447°C ± 49°C. In contrast, the median charring temperatures of aboveground fuels were found to be considerably higher, 646°C ± 73°C (3.58 ± 0.77%Romedian). A mixed-effects modeling approach was used to demonstrate that the interaction effects of burn severity, as well as ecotope classes, on the charcoal reflectance is small compared to the main effect of fuel type. Our findings reveal that the different fuel types on raised bogs are capable of charring at different temperatures within the same fire, and that the pyrolysis intensity of the fire on All Saints Bog was primarily driven by the fuel types burning, with only a weak association to the burn severity or ecotope classes.
Funding Details: European Research Council
Type of material: Journal Article
Publisher: Frontiers
Copyright (published version): 2014 the Authors
Keywords: Charcoal reflectance;Wildfire;All Saints Bog;Ireland;Burn severity;Pyrolysis intensity
DOI: 10.3389/fpls.2014.00714
Language: en
Status of Item: Peer reviewed
Appears in Collections:Biology & Environmental Science Research Collection

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