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

Predicting sustained smouldering combustion in trembling aspen duff in Elk Island National Park, Canada

S. G. Otway A D , E. W. Bork B , K. R. Anderson C and M. E. Alexander C
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Parks Canada, Jasper National Park, Box 10, Jasper, AB, T0E 1E0, Canada.

B University of Alberta, Department of Agricultural, Food, and Nutritional Science, 410E AgFor Centre, Edmonton, AB, T6G 2P5, Canada.

C Canadian Forest Service, Northern Forestry Centre, 5320-122 Street, Edmonton, AB, T6H 3S5, Canada.

D Corresponding author. Email: steve.otway@pc.gc.ca

International Journal of Wildland Fire 16(6) 690-701 https://doi.org/10.1071/WF06033
Submitted: 13 March 2006  Accepted: 20 August 2007   Published: 17 December 2007

Abstract

Fire is one of the key disturbances affecting trembling aspen (Populus tremuloides Michx.) forest ecosystems within western Canadian wildlands, including Elk Island National Park in central Alberta, Canada. Although prescribed fire is a tool available to modify aspen forests, a clear understanding of its potential impact is necessary to successfully manage this disturbance. Undesirable social and ecological consequences of severe, deep-burning ground fires include smoke generation and impaired vegetation regrowth. Data on the duff moisture conditions under which ground or subsurface fires may ignite and spread in aspen forest duff layers are presented, as well as experimental test fire results. Different topographic positions, plant communities and seasonality were factored into the research design. The Duff Moisture Code (DMC) and Drought Code (DC) components of the Canadian Forest Fire Weather Index System were calculated and factors including duff moisture content, bulk density and inorganic content measured before ignition of experimental test fires. Probability of sustained smouldering combustion models were developed for the duff layer in the aspen forest fuel type in Elk Island National Park, with values of 27 for DMC and 300 for DC at the 50% probability level.

Additional keywords: Canadian Forest Fire Weather Index System, ground fire, subsurface fire.


Acknowledgements

The authors wish to thank Elk Island National Park for encouraging this research. Field assistance was received from Matthew Cacka and the family of the corresponding author. Support for this study was provided by EINP, the University of Alberta, the Canadian Forest Service, the Friends of Elk Island Society and the Forest Engineering Research Institute of Canada (FERIC).


References


Achtemeier GL (2001) Simulating nocturnal smoke movement. Fire Management Today  61(1), 28–33.


Alexander ME (1983) Overwinter adjustment to spring starting values of the Drought Code. Canadian Forestry Service, Northern Forest Research Centre, Forestry Report No. 28:5. (Edmonton, AB)

Alexander ME, Dubé DE (1983) Fire management in wilderness areas, parks, and other nature reserves. In ‘The Role of Fire in Northern Circumpolar Ecosystems’. (Eds RW Wein, DA MacLean) pp. 273–297. (Wiley: Chichester, England)

Alexander ME, Sando RW (1989) Fire behavior and effects in aspen–northern hardwood stands. In ‘Proceedings of the 10th Conference on Fire and Forest Meteorology’.17–21 April 1989, Ottawa, ON. (Eds DC MacIver, H Auld, R Whitewood) pp. 263–274. (Forestry Canada and Environment Canada: Ottawa, ON)

Alexander ME , Maffey ME (1992) Predicting fire behavior in Canada’s aspen forests. Fire Management Notes  53–54((1)), 10–13.


Alexander ME, Stefner CN, Mason JA, Stocks BJ, Hartley GR, Maffey ME, Wotton BM, Taylor SW, et al. (2004) Characterizing the jack pine-black spruce fuel complex of the International Crown Fire Modelling Experiment (ICFME). Natural Resources Canada, Canadian Forest Service, Northern Forestry Centre, Information Report NOR-X-393. (Edmonton, AB)

Anderson KR (2000) Incorporating smouldering into fire growth modelling. In ‘Third Symposium on Fire and Forest Meteorology’. 9–14 January 2000, Long Beach, CA. pp. 31–36. (American Meteorological Society: Boston, MA)

Anderson K, Otway S (2003) Validating the overwintering effect on the Drought Code in Elk Island National Park. In ‘Proceedings of 5th Symposium on Fire and Forest Meteorology’. Paper J11.4. 16–20 November 2003, Orlando, FL. (American Meteorological Society: Boston, MA)

Bork EW, Hudson RJ , Bailey AW (1997) Populus forest characterization in Elk Island National Park relative to herbivory, prescribed fire, and topography. Canadian Journal of Botany  75, 1518–1526.
CrossRef |

Bork EW, Thomas T , McDougall B (2001) Herbage response to precipitation in central Alberta boreal grasslands. Journal of Range Management  54, 243–248.

CrossRef |

Bowser WE, Kjearsgaard AA, Peters TW, Wells RE (1962) Soil survey of Edmonton: sheet 83-H. Canada Department of Agriculture, Research Council of Alberta and University of Alberta, Soil Survey Report Number 21. (Edmonton, AB)

Canadian Forestry Service (1984) ‘Tables for the Canadian Forest Fire Weather Index System.’ 4th edn. Environment Canada, Canadian Forestry Service, Forestry Technical Report 25. (Ottawa, ON)

Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre (2003) ‘Glossary of Forest Fire Management Terms.’ (Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre: Winnipeg, MB)

Crown PH (1977) ‘Soil Survey of Elk Island National Park.’ University of Alberta, Alberta Institute of Pedology, Publication Number S-77-38. (Edmonton, AB)

Cruz MG, Alexander ME , Wakimoto RH (2003) Assessing the probability of crown fire initiation based on fire danger indices. Forestry Chronicle  79, 976–983.


Ember Research Services Ltd (2003) Fire behaviour in immature and mature aspen stands under severe burning conditions: does fire history matter? Foothills Model Forest, Chisholm/Dogrib Fire Research Initiative, Report 1. (Hinton, AB)

Forestry Canada Fire Danger Group (1992) Development and structure of the Canadian Forest Fire Behavior Prediction System. Forestry Canada, Science and Sustainable Development Directorate, Information Report ST-X-3. (Ottawa, ON)

Frandsen WH (1987) The influence of moisture and mineral soil on the combustion limits of smouldering forest duff. Canadian Journal of Forest Research  17, 1540–1544.


Frandsen WH (1991) Burning rate of smouldering peat. Northwest Science  65, 166–172.


Frandsen WH (1997) Ignition probability of organic soils. Canadian Journal of Forest Research  27, 1471–1477.
CrossRef |

Hartford RA (1989) Smouldering combustion limits in peat as influenced by moisture, mineral content, and organic bulk density. In ‘Proceedings of the 10th Conference on Fire and Forest Meteorology’. 17–21 April 1989, Ottawa, ON. (Eds DC MacIver, H Auld, R Whitewood) pp. 282–286. (Forestry Canada and Environment Canada: Ottawa, ON)

Kalra YP, Maynard DG (1991) Methods for forest soil and plant analysis. Forestry Canada, Northwest Forestry Centre, Information Report NOR-X-319. (Edmonton, AB)

Lawson BD, Dalrymple GN (1996) Ground-truthing the Drought Code: field verification of overwinter recharge of forest floor moisture. Natural Resources Canada, Canadian Forest Service, Pacific Forestry Centre and BC Ministry of Forests, Research Branch, FRDA Report 268. (Victoria, BC)

Lawson BD, Frandsen WH, Hawkes BC, Dalrymple GN (1997) Probability of sustained smouldering ignition for some boreal forest duff types. Natural Resources Canada, Canadian Forest Service, Northern Forestry Centre, Forest Management Note 63. (Edmonton, AB)

Miyanishi K (2001) Duff consumption. In ‘Forest Fires: Behaviour and Ecological Effects’. (Eds EA Johnson, K Miyanishi) pp. 437–475. (Academic Press: San Diego, CA)

Miyanishi K , Johnson EA (2002) Process and patterns of duff consumption in the mixedwood boreal forest. Canadian Journal of Forest Research  32, 1285–1295.
CrossRef |

Nalder IA , Wein RW (1998) A new forest floor corer for rapid sampling, minimal disturbance and adequate precision. Silva Fennica  32, 373–382.


Nelson RM (2001) Water relations of forest fuels. In ‘Forest Fires: Behaviour and Ecological Effects’. (Eds EA Johnson, K Miyanishi) pp. 79–149. (Academic Press: San Diego, CA)

Norum RA, Miller M (1984) Measuring fuel moisture content in Alaska: standard methods and procedures. USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Forest and Range Experiment Station, General Technical Report PNW-171. (Portland, OR)

Otway SG (2005) Aspen forest duff moisture depletion and ground fire potential. MSc Thesis, University of Alberta, Edmonton.

Otway SG, Bork EW, Anderson KR , Alexander ME (2007) Relating changes in duff moisture to the Canadian Forest Fire Weather Index System in Populus tremuloides stands in Elk Island National Park. Canadian Journal of Forest Research  37, 1987–1998.
CrossRef |

Parks Canada (1994) Guiding principles and operational policies. Minister of Supply and Services Canada. (Ottawa, ON) Available at http://www.pc.gc.ca/docs/pc/poli/princip/avant-fore_e.asp [Verified 3 December 2007]

Parks Canada (2004) Weather records for Elk Island National Park, 2002 through 2004. Parks Canada, Elk Island National Park, Internal Document. (Fort Saskatchewan, AB)

Parks Canada (2005) Fire management. Parks Canada, Ecological Integrity Branch, Management Directive 2.4.4. (Gatineau, QC)

Peterson EB, Peterson NM (1992) Ecology, management and use of aspen and balsam poplar in the prairie provinces. Forestry Canada, Northern Forestry Centre, Special Report 1. (Edmonton, AB)

Polster DF, Watson LE (1979) Vegetation classification and evaluation – Elk Island National Park. Parks Canada, Elk Island National Park, Report prepared by Techman Ltd. (Fort Saskatchewan, AB)

Quintilio D, Alexander ME, Ponto RL (1991) Spring fires in a semimature trembling aspen stand in central Alberta. Forestry Canada, Northern Forestry Centre, Information Report NOR-X-323. (Edmonton, AB)

Rogeau MP (2004) Historical fire weather review: Edmonton region. Strathcona County, Phase II Firesmart Initiative report. (Sherwood Park, AB)

SAS Institute Inc. (2001) ‘The SAS System for Windows.’ Release 8.02. (Cary, NC)

Samran S, Woodard PM , Rothwell RL (1995) The effect of soil water on ground fuel availability. Forest Science  41, 255–267.


Soil Classification Working Group (1998) ‘The Canadian System of Soil Classification.’ 3rd edn. Research Branch, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Publication 1646. (NRC Research Press: Ottawa, ON)

Stocks BJ, Lawson BD, Alexander ME, Van Wagner CE, McAlpine RS, Lynham TJ , Dubé DE (1989) The Canadian Forest Fire Danger Rating System: an overview. Forestry Chronicle  65, 450–457.


Strong WL, Leggat KR (1991) ‘Ecoregions of Alberta.’ 2nd edn. Alberta Forestry, Lands and Wildlife, Land Information Services Division, Resource Information Branch. (Edmonton, AB)

Sutherland S (2004) Fuels planning: science synthesis and integration; environmental consequences fact sheet 7: fire and weeds. USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Research Note RMRS-RN-23-7WWW. (Fort Collins, CO)

Taylor SW , Alexander ME (2006) Science, technology and human factors in fire danger rating: the Canadian experience. International Journal of Wildland Fire  15, 121–135.
CrossRef |

Turner JA, Lawson BD (1978) Weather in the Canadian Forest Fire Danger Rating System: a user guide to national standards and practices. Canadian Forestry Service, Pacific Forest Research Centre, Information Report BC-X-177. (Victoria, BC)

Van Wagner CE (1970) An index to estimate the current moisture content of the forest floor. Canada Department of Fisheries and Forestry, Canadian Forestry Service, Publication 1288. (Ottawa, ON)

Van Wagner CE (1987) Development and structure of the Canadian Forest Fire Weather Index System. Environment Canada, Canadian Forestry Service, Forestry Technical Report 35. (Ottawa, ON)

Van Wagner CE, Methven IR (1980) Fire in the management of Canada’s National Parks: a background philosophy for setting strategy. Parks Canada, National Parks Branch, Occasional Paper 1. (Ottawa, ON)

Wotton BM, Stocks BJ , Martell DL (2005) An index for tracking sheltered forest floor moisture within the Canadian Forest Fire Weather Index System. International Journal of Wildland Fire  14, 169–182.
CrossRef |

Wright JG (1932) Forest-fire hazard research as developed and conducted at the Petawawa Forest Experiment Station. Canada Department of Interior, Forest Service, Forest-Fire Hazard Paper No. 2. (Ottawa, ON)



Export Citation Cited By (3)