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    Author(s): Jesse K. Kreye; J. Kevin Hiers; J. Morgan Varner; Ben Hornsby; Saunders Drukker; Joseph J. O’Brien
    Date: 2018
    Source: Canadian Journal of Forest Research
    Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)
    Station: Pacific Northwest Research Station
    PDF: Download Publication  (6.0 MB)


    Much of fire behavior is driven by fine-scale patterns of fuel moisture; however, moisture predictions typically occur over large scales. The source of fine-scale variation in moisture results from a combination of fuelbed properties and overstory forest structure that influences water movement and distribution of solar radiation. Fine-scale moisture variation is of particular relevance in humid forests managed with frequent prescribed fire where fire behavior variation is tightly linked to differential fire effects. Results of a three-tiered experiment combining laboratory and field methods demonstrated that solar radiation exerted a strong influence on fuel moisture patterns in a temperate humid pine forest. Infrared radiation more rapidly dried Quercus and Pinus litter in laboratory experiments compared with controls. Litter exposed to sunlight during small-scale outdoor experiments was significantly drier than shaded litter. Quercus litter was wetter than Pinus on mornings, but dried more rapidly, becoming drier than Pinus litter by mid-day when exposed to sunlight. Field observations validated small-scale outdoor and laboratory results but also revealed the influence of fuel position: elevated litter was wetter than ground-level litter at peak burning time. Results provide insight into how overstory structure and composition may influence fine-scale heterogeneity of surface moisture dynamics and fire behavior.

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    Kreye, Jesse K.; Hiers, J. Kevin; Varner, J. Morgan; Hornsby, Ben; Drukker, Saunders; O’Brien, Joseph J. 2018. Effects of solar heating on the moisture dynamics of forest floor litter in humid environments: composition, structure, and position matter. Canadian Journal of Forest Research. 48(11): 1331-1342.


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    forest structure, fuel moisture, Pinus palustris, prescribed fire, Quercus

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