Table of Contents
Fire Ecology, 2006
Volume 2, Issue 1
Effects of Fine Fuel Moisture and Loading on Small Scale Fire Behavior in Mixed-Oak Forests of Southern Ohio
Authors: John B. Graham and Brian C. McCarthy
Multiple factors interact to influence fire behavior. While the interactions of fuel moisture and fuel loading in western coniferous communities are well understood, few studies have examined fire behavior in eastern deciduous forests. In order to accurately predict fire behavior in mixed oak forests, studies need to examine fire behavior in eastern deciduous forests. We conducted a fine-scale manipulative experiment to determine the specific effects that fine fuel moisture andload have on fire behavior in Ohio mixed-oak forests. Three fuel moisture levels (0, 4, and 15% moisture), and five field-simulated fuel loads were burned in a 3×5 factorial experiment.Thermocolor pyrometers were used to measure maximum temperature at 5 and 30 cm as an indicator of fire behavior. Additionally, amount and percent of fuel burned were determined for each set of conditions. As expected, fires burned hotter with decreasing fuel moisture, and with increasing fuel load. Percent of fuel burned and mean temperature at 5 and 30 cm were positively correlated. Interactive effects were not observed. Temperatures were similar to those found in prior field studies in Appalachian Ohio. Controlled experiments such as this will likely prove useful in future efforts to link fuel conditions and fire behavior as landscape-scale effects are modeled. In particular, our results can be used to verify and calibrate fire behavior models in eastern mixed-oak forests.
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