Diurnal fuel moisture content variations of live and dead Calluna vegetation in a temperate peatland

Lewis, C.H.M., Little, K., Graham, L., Kettridge, N., & Ivison, K. (2024). Diurnal fuel moisture content variations of live and dead Calluna vegetation in a temperate peatland. Scientific Reports 14 (1) 10.1038/s41598-024-55322-z.

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The increasing frequency and severity of UK wildfires, attributed in part to the effects of climate change, highlights the critical role of fuel moisture content (FMC) of live and dead vegetation in shaping wildfire behaviour. However, current models used to assess wildfire danger do not perform well in shrub-type fuels such as Calluna vulgaris, requiring in part an improved understanding of fuel moisture dynamics on diurnal and seasonal scales. To this end, 554 samples of upper live Calluna canopy, live Calluna stems, upper dead Calluna canopy, dead Calluna stems, moss, litter and organic layer (top 5 cm of organic material above mineral soil) were sampled hourly between 10:00 and 18:00 on seven days from March-August. Using a novel statistical method for investigating diurnal patterns, we found distinctive diurnal and seasonal trends in FMC for all fuel layers. Notably, significant diurnal patterns were evident in dead Calluna across nearly all sampled months, while diurnal trends in live Calluna canopy were pronounced in March, June, and August, coinciding with the peak occurrence of UK wildfires. In addition, the moisture content of moss and litter was found to fluctuate above and below their relative ignition thresholds throughout the day on some sampling days. These findings underscore the impact of diurnal FMC variations on wildfire danger during early spring and late summer in Calluna dominated peatlands and the need to consider such fluctuations in management and fire suppression strategies.

Item Type: Article
Research Programs: Biodiversity and Natural Resources (BNR)
Biodiversity and Natural Resources (BNR) > Biodiversity, Ecology, and Conservation (BEC)
Depositing User: Luke Kirwan
Date Deposited: 28 Feb 2024 13:06
Last Modified: 28 Feb 2024 13:06
URI: https://pure.iiasa.ac.at/19531

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