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Title: Charcoal reflectance : a quantitative approach to understanding the impact of fire on an ecosystem
Author: New, S.
ISNI:       0000 0004 8510 7981
Awarding Body: University of Exeter
Current Institution: University of Exeter
Date of Award: 2020
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This thesis develops the charcoal reflectance method into a novel metric with which to assess fire severity and begin to explore the relationship between this and the amount of energy that has been delivered across a burned area. The ability to better understand the effects of fires on ecosystems is critical for future policy and management strategies especially as in some regions of the Earth fire is predicted to become a more prevalent and catastrophic disturbance. Charcoal is a key product of wildfire, resulting from the incomplete combustion of fuel. During the creation of charcoal, the energy from the fire alters the atomic structure of the plant material and it is eventually re-ordered to a more graphite-like structure. This re-ordering of cells alters the reflective properties of the charcoal i.e. there is an increase in the quantifiable amount of light reflected from the surface of the charcoal thus allowing researchers to study the reflectance properties of charcoal. It has been suggested that the properties of charcoal may be capable of capturing evidence of the heat distribution throughout a wildfire. As such charcoal may be able to provide a means with which to assess fire severity and the amount of energy that has been applied to fuel to create charcoal. At present, there are two main tools by which fire severity is assessed: Qualitative fire severity scores taken at the ground-level, and quantitative satellite-based approaches. In this thesis, I examine how well charcoal reflectance compares to existing fire severity metrics whilst developing it into a post-fire assessment tool that has the potential to assist in future policy and management decisions, and in predictions of carbon budgeting for ecosystems.
Supervisor: Feldpausch, T. ; Belcher, C. Sponsor: NERC
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Wildfire ; Charcoal ; Reflectance ; Fire severity ; Fire behaviour