International Journal of Wildland Fire International Journal of Wildland Fire Society
Journal of the International Association of Wildland Fire
RESEARCH ARTICLE

A new method for performing smouldering combustion field experiments in peatlands and rich-organic soils

E. Pastor A F , I. Oliveras B , E. Urquiaga-Flores C , J. A. Quintano-Loayza D , M. I. Manta E and E. Planas A
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Department of Chemical Engineering, Centre for Technological Risk Studies, Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya·BarcelonaTech, Eduard Maristany 10-14, E-08019 Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain.

B Environmental Change Institute, School of Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford, South Parks Road, Oxford OX13QY, UK.

C Departament of Systematic and Evolutionary Botany, University of Zurich, Zollikerstrasse 107, CH-8088 Zurich, Switzerland.

D Departament of Botany, Universidad de San Antonio Abad del Cusco, Avenida Cultura 733, Cusco, Perú.

E Forest Management Department, Universidad Nacional Agraria La Molina, Avenida La Universidad S/N, Apartado 12-056, Lima, Perú.

F Corresponding author. Email: elsa.pastor@upc.edu

International Journal of Wildland Fire 26(12) 1040-1052 https://doi.org/10.1071/WF17033
Submitted: 13 February 2017  Accepted: 27 September 2017   Published: 8 December 2017

Abstract

Smouldering ground fires have severe environmental implications. Their main effects are the release of large amounts of carbon to the atmosphere with loses of organic soil and its biota. Quantitative data on the behaviour of smouldering wildfires are very scarce and are needed to understand its ecological effects, to validate fuel consumption and smouldering propagation models and to develop danger-rating systems. We present, for the first time, a methodology for conducting smouldering experiments in field conditions. This method provides key data to investigate smouldering combustion dynamics, acquire fire behaviour metrics and obtain indicators for ecological effects of smouldering fires. It is to be applied in all types of undisturbed soils. The experimental protocol is based on a non-electric ignition source and the monitoring system relies on combining both point and surface specific temperature measurements. The methodology has been developed and applied by means of large series of replicate experiments in highly organic soils at the forest–grassland treeline of the Peruvian Andes. The soil tested exhibited weak ignition conditions. However, transition to oxidation phase was observed, with smouldering combustion during 9 h at 15-cm depth and residence times at temperatures above dehydration of ~22 h.

Additional keywords : carbon emission, charcoal combustion, ground fires, infrared imagery, Peruvian Andes, thermal damage.


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