Propagation probability and spread rate of self-sustained smouldering fires under controlled moisture content and bulk density conditions

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Title: Propagation probability and spread rate of self-sustained smouldering fires under controlled moisture content and bulk density conditions
Authors: Prat-Guitart, Nuria
Rein, Guillermo
Hadden, Rory M.
Belcher, Claire M.
Yearsley, Jonathan M.
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Date: 3-Mar-2016
Online since: 2016-04-22T13:48:21Z
Abstract: The consumption of large areas of peat during wildfires is due to self-sustained smouldering fronts that can remain active for weeks. We studied the effect of peat moisture content and bulk density on the horizontal propagation of smouldering fire in laboratory-scale experiments. We used milled peat with moisture contents between 25 and 250% (mass of water per mass of dry peat) and bulk densities between 50 and 150 kg m–3. An infrared camera monitored ignition, spread and extinction of each smouldering combustion front. Peats with a bulk density below 75 kg m–3 and a moisture content below 150% self-sustained smouldering propagation for more than 12 cm. Peat with a bulk density of 150 kg m–3 could self-sustain smouldering propagation up to a critical moisture content of 115%. A linear model estimated that increasing both moisture content and bulk density significantly reduced the median fire spread rate (which ranged between 1 and 5 cm h–1). Moisture content had a stronger effect size on the spread rate than bulk density. However, the effect of bulk density on spread rate depends upon the moisture content, with the largest effect of bulk density at low moisture contents.
Funding Details: European Commission - European Regional Development Fund
European Research Council
Higher Education Authority
Type of material: Journal Article
Publisher: CSIRO Publishing
Journal: International Journal of Wildland Fire
Volume: 25
Issue: 4
Start page: 456
End page: 465
Copyright (published version): 2016 IAWF
Keywords: PeatlandFire behaviourHorizontal frontLateralPeat firePropagation dynamics
DOI: 10.1071/WF15103
Language: en
Status of Item: Peer reviewed
Appears in Collections:Biology & Environmental Science Research Collection
Earth Institute Research Collection

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