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

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

Elsa Pastor , Immaculada Oliveras , Erickson Urquiaga-Flores , Jose Antonio Quintano-Loayza , María Manta , Eulalia Planas

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 is very scarce and is 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 around 22 h.

WF17033  Accepted 27 September 2017

© CSIRO 2017