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

Properties affecting the consumption of sound and rotten coarse woody debris in northern Idaho: a preliminary investigation using laboratory fires

Joshua C. Hyde A C , Alistair M. S. Smith A and Roger D. Ottmar B

A Department of Forest, Rangeland and Fire Sciences, College of Natural Resources, University of Idaho, PO Box 441133, Moscow, ID 83844-1133, USA.

B Pacific Wildland Fire Sciences Laboratory, USDA Forest Service, 400 N 34th Street Suite 201, Seattle, WA 98103, USA.

C Corresponding author. Email: jhyde@uidaho.edu

International Journal of Wildland Fire 21(5) 596-608 http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/WF11016
Submitted: 29 January 2011  Accepted: 20 October 2011   Published: 22 May 2012

Abstract

This study evaluates the consumption of coarse woody debris in various states of decay. Samples from a northern Idaho mixed-conifer forest were classified using three different classification methods, ignited with two different ignition methods and consumption was recorded. Intrinsic properties that change with decay were measured including carbon to nitrogen ratio, density, heat content, lignin content, moisture content and surface area-to-volume ratio. Consumption for logs in different stages of decay is reported with characterisation of wood properties. Results indicate very decayed coarse woody debris is likely to be consumed to a substantially greater degree than sound coarse woody debris given similar conditions. High consumption occurred in debris with low-density, high-lignin content and high gravimetric heat content; however, lignin content and density showed the highest correlation with consumption. The Maser classification method grouped very rotten logs with high consumption into decay class 4 and the remainder into class 3. Trends in consumption were similar regardless of ignition; however low-intensity long-duration ignition produced higher consumption values. Focus on physical properties is recommended for predictive purposes over any classification method. Logs of other species and in regions with different decomposition and combustion dynamics may display different property ranges and consumption results.


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