Fire Science Round Up: Summer 2016

Written by Colton Lynn, Graduate Student Volunteer

Each quarter we endeavor to bring you a summary of research articles that are relevant to the Great Plains fire science community. We appreciate articles you send us to add to the next round-up. We also draw upon compilations of citations sent out monthly by Jason Greenlee of Current Titles in Wildland fire.


Davies, K.W., C.S. Boyd, J.D. Bates, A. Hulet. 2016. Winter grazing can reduce wildfire size, intensity and behavior in a shrub-grassland. International Journal of Wildland Fire, 25: 191-199.

Winter grazing could be used in large areas of shrub-grassland where other fire-management treatments are impractical. Intensity of fires was shown to decrease when the area was grazed in the winter because fine fuels were reduced.


Sidman, G., D.P. Guertin, D.C. Goodrich, D. Thoma, D. Falk, I.S. Burns 2016. A coupled modelling approach to assess the effect of fuel treatments on post-wildfire runoff and erosion. International Journal of Wildland Fire 25: 351-362.

Models that study long-lasting hydrological effects only focus on one fire-watershed linkage which limits the amount we can gain from these models. A triple-coupling of models like the one used could greatly assist managers in optimizing fuel treatments.

Wittenberg, L., D. Malkinson, R. Barzilai 2014. The differential response to surface runoff and sediment loss to wildfire events. Catena 121: 241-247.

Plots that differed in fire severity, steepness and aspect were monitored for 24 months to observe the growth of vegetation, runoff, and soil loss amounts. Vegetation plays a big role in reducing soil loss but doesn’t affect runoff significantly.

Remote sensing

Hanamaraddi, P.M. 2016. A literature study on image processing for forest fire detection. International Journal of Innovative Technology and Research 4: 2695-2700.

YCbCr color models can be more useful than RGB color spaces in image processing by making the images simpler to view. This is YCbCr’s ability to separate chrominance and luminance. Y is the luminance information while Cb and Cr show the blue versus a reference and red versus a reference, respectively.

Sofiev, M., R. Vankevich, M. Lotjonen, M. Prank, V. Petunkhov, T. Ermakova, J. Koskinen, J. Kukkonen (2009). An operational system for the assimilation of the satellite information on wild-land fires for the needs of air quality modelling and forecasting. Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, 9: 6833-6847.

Temperature Anomaly (TA) and Fire Radiative Power are two branches of the Fire Assimilation System that are both dependent on 4-µm temperature. These methods can be used to evaluate the flux of emissions from large or moderate wildfires.


Leonard, S.S., V. Castranova, B.T. Chen, D. Schwegler-Berry, M. Hoover, C. Piacitelli, D.M. Gaughan. 2007. Particle size-dependent radical generation from wildland fire smoke. Toxicology 236: 103-113.

Wildland firefighters are subjected to various sizes of particulate in smoke. These particles can hold free radicals which are known to cause damage to DNA. The different particle sizes cause varying chemical reactions that create free radicals.

Loehman, R.A., E. Reinhardt, K.L. Riley. 2014. Wildland fire emissions, carbon, and climate: seeing the forest and the trees – a cross-scale assessment of wildfire and carbon dynamics in fire-prone, forested ecosystems. ­Forest Ecology and Management, 317: 9-19.

Wildfires are crucial for moving carbon from terrestrial systems to the atmosphere. An understanding of how temporal, spatial, and organizational aspects of community structure and how it interacts with fire driving forces is important for understanding how wildfires impact the carbon cycle and, in turn, the climate.

Paugman, R., M. Wooster, S. Freitas, M. Val Martin. 2016. A review of approaches to estimate wildfire plume injection height within large-scale atmospheric chemical transport models. Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics 16: 907-925.

Using Earth Observation (EO) satellites, it is possible to observe and record the injection height of smoke plumes from wildfires. It is suggested that the top height of the plume and the fire activity (FRP) may be linked. The injection height affects the range at which smoke particles are dispersed.


Hatten, J., M. Goni. 2016. Cupric Oxide (CuO) oxidation detects pyrogenic Carbon in burnt organic matter and soils. International Journal of Wildland Fire 25.

Watersheds hold stocks of organic carbon, like pyrogenic organic carbon (Py-OC) and these carbon stocks can be greatly influenced by wildfires. CuO oxidation reactions release hydroxyl benzoic acid (BCA) which can be used to increase the usefulness of methods used to understand the roles of different compounds in the chemical samples.

Massman, W.J. 2016. A non-equilibrium model for soil heating and moisture transport during extreme surface heating: the soil (heat-moisture-vapor) HMV-model version 1. Geoscientific Model Development, 8: 3659-3680.

The heat-moisture-vapor (HMV) model can be used to understand how soil heats from simple solar heating to more extreme heating caused by fire. This model describes the liquid-to-vapor phase change and is one-dimensional, making it possible to simulate the interactions between soil moisture, atmospheric water vapor, and heat input.

Zhao, Y., Y.Z. Wang, Z.H. Xu, L. Fu. 2015. Impacts of prescribed burning on soil greenhouse gas fluxes in a suburban native forest of south-eastern Queensland, Australia. Biogeosciences 12: 6279-6290.

The Carbon and Nitrogen cycles were compared in burned and unburned plots by observing the soil-atmosphere exchange of CO2, CH4, and N2O. The effect of burning on CO2 and N2O showed no difference between plots, but CH4 had a greater uptake by soil in burned plots.


Lindley, T.T., G.P. Murdoch, J.L. Guyer, G.D. Skwira, K.J. Schneider, S.R. Nagle, K.M. Van Speybroeck, B.R. Smith, M.J. Beierle. 2014. Southern Great Plains wildfire outbreaks. Electronic Journal of Severe Storms Meteorology, 9: 1-43.

When there are an abundance of wildfires in the southern Great Plains, it is categorized as a southern Great Plains wildfire outbreak (SGPWO). It is possible to analyze the conditions that promote these outbreaks and predict future outbreaks.


Branson, D.H., L.T. Vermeire. 2016. Grasshopper responses to fire and postfire grazing in northern great plains vary among species. Rangeland Ecology & Management, 69: 144-149.

Livestock grazing and late-season prescribed burning can both affect grasshopper densities in northern prairies but do so independently of each other. Fire decreases the overall density of grasshoppers, with widely varying densities of different grasshopper taxa. Post-fire grazing may also affect the densities by decreasing available food sources and reducing canopy cover.

Sokos, C., P. Birtsas, K.G. Papaspyropoulos, E. Tsachalidis, A. Giannakopoulos, C. Milis, V. Spyrou, K. Manolakou, G. Valiakos, C. Lakovakis, L.V. Athanasiou, A. Sfougaris, C. Billinis (2016). Mammals and habitat disturbance: the case of brown hare and wildfire. Current Zoology 0: 1-10.

The brown hare (Lepus europaeus) has a lower rate of juvenile mortality in burned areas than in unburned areas. This is believed to be due to reduced predation in the burned areas.