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

When It's Hot, It's Hot... Or Maybe It's Not! (Surface Flaming May Not Portend Extensive Soil Heating)

RA Hartford and WH Frandsen

International Journal of Wildland Fire 2(3) 139 - 144
Published: 1992


Fire effects on aplant community, soil, and air are not apparent when judged only by surface fire intensity. The fire severity or fire impact can be described by the temperatures reached within the forest floor and the duration of heating experienced in the vegetation, forest floor, and underlying mineral soil. Temporal distributions of temperatures illustrate heat flow in duff and mineral soil in three instrumented plots: two with slash fuel over moist duff and one with litter fuel over dry duff. Fires in the two slash fuel plots produced substantial flame lengths but minimal heating in the underlying mineral soil. In contrast, smoldering combustion in the dry duff plot produced long duration heating with nearly complete duff consumption and lethal temperatures at the mineral soil surface. Moisture content of duff and soil were key variables for determining f i e impact on the forest floor.

Keywords: Temperatures; Duff; Smoldering; Northern Rocky Mountains; Larix occidenalis; Abies lasiocarpa

© IAWF 1992

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