The Effect of Fireline Intensity on Woody Fuel Consumption in Southern Australian Eucalypt Forest Fires

Classify & Cross-ref
Fire Behaviour
TitleThe Effect of Fireline Intensity on Woody Fuel Consumption in Southern Australian Eucalypt Forest Fires
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2011
AuthorsHollis, JJ, Anderson, WR, McCaw, LW, Cruz, MG, Burrows, ND, Ward, B, Tolhurst, KG, Gould, JS
JournalAustralian Forestry
AbstractThe relationship between woody fuel consumption and fireline intensity was assessed using data collected at controlled fires and wildfires in south-western Western Australia, central Victoria and south-eastern New South Wales. The combined dataset consisted of fires in a range of dry eucalypt forests. Fire behaviour varied from slow, self-extinguishing prescribed burns to intense, fast-moving fires burning under conditions of extreme fire danger. Fireline intensity ranged from 50 kW m-1 to > 31 000 kW m-1. Woody fuel consumption ranged from 31% to 100%, and generally increased with fire intensity. Percentage consumption was highest for small woody fuels where the diameter was between 0.6 cm and 2.5 cm. Fireline intensity had a statistically significant, positive relationship with the proportion of woody fuel consumed by both controlled fires and wildfires. Two generalised linear models (GLM) describing woody fuel consumption as a function of fireline intensity were developed, one applicable to the prescribed fire environment (with fireline intensities typically < 750 kW m-1) and the other to the full range of fireline intensities. The prescribed burning model produced the best fit and lowest error statistics. The findings of this research have important practical implications for the management of fire to reduce fuel loads, maintain habitat and manage carbon stocks in fire-prone eucalypt forests. The woody fuel consumption models presented may assist the assessment of potential climate change impacts on coarse woody debris in Australian southern eucalypt forests. The results of this research suggest that predicted changes to fire regimes and fire intensity associated with climate change in southern Australia could result in greater woody fuel consumption and carbon release during bushfires and a reduction in woody fuel loads in dry eucalypt forests. Use of low-intensity prescribed fires may provide a practical way of managing woody fuel stocks to achieve particular land management objectives.
Refereed DesignationRefereed