Title: In situ soil temperature and heat flux measurements during controlled surface burns at a southern Colorado forest site
Author: Massman, W. J.; Frank, J. M.; Shepperd, W. D.; Platten, M. J.;
Source: In: Omi, Philip N.; Joyce, Linda A., technical eds. Fire, fuel treatments, and ecological restoration: Conference proceedings; 2002 16-18 April; Fort Collins, CO. Proceedings RMRS-P-29. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station. p. 69-88.
Publication Series: Proceedings (P)
Description: This study presents in situ soil temperature measurements at 5-6 depths and heat flux measurements at 2-5 depths obtained during the fall/winter of 2001/ 2002 at seven controlled (surface) fires within a ponderosa pine forest site at the Manitou Experimental Forest in central Colorado. Six of these burns included three different (low, medium, and high) fuel loadings under both a closed-canopy forested site and an open forest with a grassy meadow understory. The fuel loading for the seventh burn was a conical pile of slash about 6 m in height and 9 m in diameter and was intended to duplicate the structure and loading of a slash pile resulting from mechanical harvesting activities. One basic purpose of this initial experiment was to assess how well some commercially available soil heat flux plates would perform at high temperatures. The data presented here include soil temperatures, heat fluxes, and depth and duration of the thermal energy penetration into the soils. The maximum surface heat fluxes were estimated to be about 2400 Watts/meter2 [Wm-2] at the slash pile burn site, 2300 Wm-2 at the high fuel meadow site, and 3000 Wm-2 at the high fuel forested site. Extrapolated surface temperatures are about 436 C at the slash burn site, 359 C at the high fuel meadow site, and 95 C at the high fuel forested site. Recovery of a normal daily temperature cycle depended on fire duration and fuel loading. The recovery times were between 16 and 20 hours at the high fuel sites, about half this time at the medium fuel sites, and less that 2 hours at the low fuel sites. However, the recovery time at the slash pile site was about 2 weeks. Although further tests and refinements are planned, the present results suggest not only that soil heat flux can be reliably measured during controlled burns, but that soil temperatures and heat flux can differ significantly with different fuel loadings.
Keywords: fire, fuel treatment, ecological restoration, hazard reduction, restoration projects
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Massman, W. J.; Frank, J. M.; Shepperd, W. D.; Platten, M. J. 2003. In situ soil temperature and heat flux measurements during controlled surface burns at a southern Colorado forest site. In: Omi, Philip N.; Joyce, Linda A., technical eds. Fire, fuel treatments, and ecological restoration: Conference proceedings; 2002 16-18 April; Fort Collins, CO. Proceedings RMRS-P-29. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station. p. 69-88.
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