Charring temperatures are driven by the fuel types burned in a peatland wildfire
Frontiers in Plant Science
© 2014 Hudspith, Belcher and Yearsley. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) or licensor are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.
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.
This research was supported by a European Research Council Starter Grant ERC-2013- StG-335891-ECOFLAM to Claire M. Belcher
This is the final version of the article. It first appeared from Frontiers Media via http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fpls.2014.00714
Frontiers in Plant Science, 2014, Vol. 5, Article 714