USDA Forest Service

Fire and Environmental Research Applications Team


Fire and Environmental Research Applications Team
Pacific Wildland Fire Sciences Laboratory

400 N 34th Street, Suite 201
Seattle, WA 98103

(206) 732-7800

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United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service.

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Icon of magnifying glassForest Floor Consumption and Smoke Characterization in Boreal Forested Fuelbed Types of Alaska

Photo of data collection on the Frostfire ProjectFinishedFinal Report to the Joint Fire Science Program [.pdf 1.4 MB]

Many areas of the boreal forest of Alaska contain deep layers of moss, duff, and peat, resulting in a large pool of biomass that potentially can burn and smolder for long periods of time creating hazardous smoke episodes for local residents and communities and causing detrimental landscape impacts. Research to quantify fuel consumption, flammability thresholds, and smoke production in boreal forest types is critical for effective modeling of fire effects (e.g. smoke emissions, regional haze, permafrost melting, erosion, plant succession, etc) and landscape management if prescribed burning is to become an important land management technique in the future. Preliminary research has generated a hypothesis of the controlling variables that govern the fuel consumption in the moss and duff layers, but this hypothesis needs to be verified and tested through field-based experimentation. Very limited smoke emissions characterization has been completed.

The purpose of this study was to collect fuel consumption data and characterize smoke emissions on active wildfires and prescribed fires. The data was used to develop new and modify existing forest floor fuel consumption models and develop emission rate equations for the boreal forest fuelbed type. The fuel consumption and emission factors and rate equations were implemented into the software program Consume 3.0 to better predict moss/peat/duff fuel consumption and smoke production during wildland fires in Alaska. This research makes Consume 3.0 and other fuel consumption, fire effects, and smoke production models more robust and aid managers, planners, and researchers in developing environmentally, socially, and legally responsible land management plans. This research will also allow for a more effective and informed use of emission production and wildfire/prescribed fire trade-off models providing improved wildland fire emissions accounting and planning at the local, regional, and global scales. The fuel consumption and smoke characterization module will be a scientifically based support tool that can be used to improve fire management decision processes.

Team Lead: Roger Ottmar

Collaborators: BLM Alaska Fire Service, National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service, Alaska Fish and Game, Alaska Division of Forestry, Rocky Mountain Research Station

Logo of the Joint Fire Science Program We acknowledge funding from the Joint Fire Science Program under Project JFSP 03-3-1-08.

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