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

Towards a new paradigm in fire severity research using dose–response experiments

Alistair M. S. Smith A B F , Aaron M. Sparks A B , Crystal A. Kolden B , John T. Abatzoglou B , Alan F. Talhelm A , Daniel M. Johnson A , Luigi Boschetti A , James A. Lutz C , Kent G. Apostol A , Kara M. Yedinak A , Wade T. Tinkham D and Robert J. Kremens E
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Department of Forest, Rangeland, and Fire Sciences, University of Idaho, Moscow, ID 83844, USA.

B Department of Geography, University of Idaho, Moscow, ID 83844, USA.

C Department of Wildland Resources, College of Natural Resources, Utah State University, Logan, UT 84332, USA.

D Warner College of Natural Resources, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523, USA.

E Carlson Center for Imaging Science, Rochester institute of Technology, Rochester, New York, NY14623, USA.

F Corresponding author. Email: alistair@uidaho.edu

International Journal of Wildland Fire 25(2) 158-166 https://doi.org/10.1071/WF15130
Submitted: 22 July 2015  Accepted: 17 November 2015   Published: 14 January 2016

Abstract

Most landscape-scale fire severity research relies on correlations between field measures of fire effects and relatively simple spectral reflectance indices that are not direct measures of heat output or changes in plant physiology. Although many authors have highlighted limitations of this approach and called for improved assessments of severity, others have suggested that the operational utility of such a simple approach makes it acceptable. An alternative pathway to evaluate fire severity that bridges fire combustion dynamics and ecophysiology via dose–response experiments is presented. We provide an illustrative example from a controlled nursery combustion laboratory experiment. In this example, severity is defined through changes in the ability of the plant to assimilate carbon at the leaf level. We also explore changes in the Differenced Normalised Differenced Vegetation Index (dNDVI) and the Differenced Normalised Burn Ratio (dNBR) as intermediate spectral indices. We demonstrate the potential of this methodology and propose dose–response metrics for quantifying severity in terms of carbon cycle processes.

Additional keywords: fire behaviour, fire effects, intensity.


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