Impacts of controlled burns on the heating and ecology of soils.
Massman, William *,1, 1 USDA Forest Service, Fort Collins, Colorado, USA
ABSTRACT- Heat flow in and out of soils is a major energy source for driving soil ecological processes. Input of this thermal energy into soils is largely determined by surface processes, which occur both naturally, as with the daily and seasonal cycles of solar energy, and catastrophically, as with intense fire. However, the movement of this surface energy into the soil is largely controlled by the soil's thermal properties. By altering soil structure, fire has the potential to alter a soil's thermal properties as well. This in turn would change the pre-fire thermal environment for life within that soil and may impact the rate of soil recovery and the trajectory of the soil's (post-fire) ecological development. This presentation discusses a controlled burn experiment performed at Manitou Experimental Forest (southern Colorado, USA) and intended to assess the impact controlled fires can have on the thermal properties of soils. After the site was selected it was instrumented for profiles of soil temperature and heat flux. The burn pile was then constructed over the instruments and the soil thermal data were monitored before, during and after the burn. Models of soil temperature and heat flux before, during, and after the fire were used to chart the movement of the fire-caused thermal pulse through the soil and to assess if and how the fire may have altered the soil's thermal properties.
Key words: fuel management
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