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  Journal of the International Association of Wildland Fire
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Article << Previous     |     Next >>   Contents Vol 23(6)

Ignition and fire behaviour of Juniperus virginiana in response to live fuel moisture and fire temperature in the southern Great Plains

John R. Weir A B and J. Derek Scasta A

A Department of Natural Resource Ecology and Management, Oklahoma State University, 008C Ag Hall, Stillwater, OK 74075, USA.
B Corresponding author. Email: john.weir@okstate.edu

International Journal of Wildland Fire 23(6) 839-844 http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/WF13147
Submitted: 15 May 2013  Accepted: 12 March 2014   Published: 27 June 2014

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Fire is the most effective tool for managing Juniperus virginiana encroachment and associated fire risk, but its application has been limited. In a laboratory experiment we assessed a critical knowledge gap: how fire temperature and live fuel moisture (LFM) influences ignitability, sustainability, combustibility and consumability of J. virginiana. Percentage occurrence of ignition rose as fire temperature increased. The time to ignition increased while the occurrence of ignition decreased with increasing LFM. LFM and fire temperature each had a significant effect on all measured dependent variables (P ≤ 0.05) as was their interaction, except in the case of sustainability. As expected, time to flaming was shortest and flame lengths were the highest under the hottest fire and lowest LFM scenarios. Flame heights increased quadratically as LFM decreased with a critical threshold at 60% LFM. Land managers can select burning prescriptions based on the interaction between fire temperature and LFM to either increase J. virginiana ignition or reduce hazards. In this study, the low and moderate fire temperatures were similar to those of prescribed fires at low and high fuel loads and the high temperature level mimics conditions found in extreme wildfires. Thus, higher fuel loads and hotter fires are required to maximise efficacy of fires targeting J. virginiana control.

Additional keywords: combustion, fire effects, liability, prescribed fire, risk, wildfire.


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