Estimates of biomass-burning in wildfires or prescribed fires are needed to account for the production of trace gases and aerosols that enter the atmosphere during combustion. Research has demonstrated that the biomass consumption rate is linearly related to fire radiative power (FRP), and that total biomass consumed is linearly related to fire radiative energy (FRE). Measurement of these is biased by certain characteristics of a forest canopy, such as foliar moisture content and tree canopy cover. Laboratory experiments were conducted to assess the influence of canopy cover on the FRP observed from an overhead sensor (e.g. an aircraft or satellite). A range of canopy cover from 0 to 90% and two classes of canopy (non-transpiring living and desiccated branches) were used in the experiments. Experiments suggest that in cases of complete or nearly complete canopy closure, fires obscured by the canopy may be below the detection threshold of above-canopy FRP sensors. Results from this research will reduce uncertainties in estimates of biomass consumption in surface fires burning under forest canopies.
This study quantified the impact of canopy cover interception on estimates of fire radiative power via a laboratory experiment. Samples included both desiccated and non-transpiring living branches assessed over a range of canopy covers. Results characterised the rate of attenuation of fire radiative power with canopy cover.