Variability in organic matter lost by combustion in a boreal bog during the 2001 Chisholm fire.

Fire directly releases carbon (C) to the atmosphere through combustion of biomass. An estimated 1470+/-59 km2 of peatland burns annually in boreal, western Canada, releasing 4.7+/-0.6 Tg C to the atmosphere via direct combustion. We quantified within-site variation in organic matter lost via combustion in a bog peatland in association with the 116 000-ha Chisholm, Alberta, fire in 2001. We hypothesized that for peatlands with considerable small-scale microtopography (bogs and treed fens), hummocks will burn less than hollows. We found that hollows exhibit more combustion than hummocks, releasing nearly twice as much C to the atmosphere. Our results suggest that spatial variability in species composition and site hydrology within a landform and across a landscape could contribute to considerable spatial variation in the amounts of C released via combustion during peatland fire, although the magnitude of this variation may be dependent on fire severity.

Main Author: Benscoter, Brian.
Other Authors: Wieder, R Kelman.
Language: English
Published: 2003
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