Extreme fire severity patterns in topographic, convective and wind-driven historical wildfires of mediterranean pine forests

Lecina-Diaz J., Alvarez A., Retana J. (2014) Extreme fire severity patterns in topographic, convective and wind-driven historical wildfires of mediterranean pine forests. PLoS ONE. 9: 0-0.
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Doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0085127

Resum:

Crown fires associated with extreme fire severity are extremely difficult to control. We have assessed fire severity using differenced Normalized Burn Ratio (dNBR) from Landsat imagery in 15 historical wildfires of Pinus halepensis Mill. We have considered a wide range of innovative topographic, fuel and fire behavior variables with the purposes of (1) determining the variables that influence fire severity patterns among fires (considering the 15 wildfires together) and (2) ascertaining whether different variables affect extreme fire severity within the three fire types (topographic, convective and wind-driven fires). The among-fires analysis showed that fires in less arid climates and with steeper slopes had more extreme severity. In less arid conditions there was more crown fuel accumulation and closer forest structures, promoting high vertical and horizontal fuel continuity and extreme fire severity. The analyses carried out for each fire separately (within fires) showed more extreme fire severity in areas in northern aspects, with steeper slopes, with high crown biomass and in climates with more water availability. In northern aspects solar radiation was lower and fuels had less water limitation to growth which, combined with steeper slopes, produced more extreme severity. In topographic fires there was more extreme severity in northern aspects with steeper slopes and in areas with more water availability and high crown biomass; in convection-dominated fires there was also more extreme fire severity in northern aspects with high biomass; while in wind-driven fires there was only a slight interaction between biomass and water availability. This latter pattern could be related to the fact that wind-driven fires spread with high wind speed, which could have minimized the effect of other variables. In the future, and as a consequence of climate change, new zones with high crown biomass accumulated in non-common drought areas will be available to burn as extreme severity wildfires. © 2014 Lecina-Diaz et al.

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Fuel types and crown fire potential in Pinus halepensis forests

Alvarez A., Gracia M., Retana J. (2012) Fuel types and crown fire potential in Pinus halepensis forests. European Journal of Forest Research. 131: 463-474.
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Doi: 10.1007/s10342-011-0520-6

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There is a lack of knowledge to identify and classify forest structures according to the risk of crown fires, especially in Mediterranean regions. In this study, for the first time, we use real information, obtained after a wildfire that burnt under extreme meteorological conditions, to classify forest structures of Pinus halepensis into fuel types as a function of crown fire potential. We identified fourteen forest structures which characterize many forest types in Western Mediterranean areas depending on canopy closure, number of tree layers, percent of each tree layer and overall tree density. By using the pattern of fire types that burnt the most numerous forest structures, we have identified four fire hazard groups of forest structures which are considered different fuel types. The first two had the lowest risk of active crown fires and they differed in the proportion of surface fires and passive crown fires. The third fuel type was the threshold between structures with low and high extreme fire behavior; while the fourth had a high risk of active crown fires. Firefighters and forest managers who are demanding this kind of schema, will test and upgrade this classification of fuel types in function of crown fire potential during future wildfires. © 2011 Springer-Verlag.

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Patterns of fuel types and crown fire potential in Pinus halepensis forests in the Western Mediterranean Basin

Alvarez A., Gracia M., Vayreda J., Retana J. (2012) Patterns of fuel types and crown fire potential in Pinus halepensis forests in the Western Mediterranean Basin. Forest Ecology and Management. 270: 282-290.
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Doi: 10.1016/j.foreco.2011.01.039

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Using the databases from the Spanish Forest Inventories, we have classified the forest structures of Pinus halepensis plots across the Iberian Peninsula into different fuel types as a function of the most common fire types that can be supported. The purposes of this study are to determine (i) the proportion of the different fuel types and fire type associated with different disturbance scenarios (undisturbed, after a recent wildfire, after an old wildfire and after thinning), (ii) the effect of climate and soil type on the distribution of fuel types and (iii) the effect of the different disturbance scenarios on the transitions between these fuel types. After a recent wildfire the risk of spreading active crown fires was reduced but the risk increased with time since last fire and in undisturbed areas. Climate and stoniness influenced the spatial distribution of fuel types and the potential crown fire risk. There was a lower risk of active crown fires when there was higher aridity and higher stoniness. Disturbances modify the transitions between fuel types; after a wildfire there was the highest change in fuel types with an increase of fuel type one with open forest structures and the presence of plots without trees that are linked to lower risk of active crown fires. There was also a reduction of fuel types 3 and 4, which burn with high intensity during a wildfire. In the absence of disturbances or after an old wildfire, changes between fuel types were slow, usually leading to increasing canopy closure and higher risk of active crown fires. After thinning there were also important changes in fuel types, with a reduction of active crown fire risk after thinning from below and heavy thinning. Fire plays an important role in maintaining landscape heterogeneity. As a consequence of climate warming, new areas with high structural continuity will increase the risk of extreme fire behavior, and for this reason, small wildfires and specific thinning treatments are the key to reduce crown fire potential. © 2011 Elsevier B.V.

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Fuel types and crown fire potential in Mediterranean pine forests.

Alvarez A, Gracia M, Retana J (2011) Fuel types and crown fire potential in Mediterranean pine forests. European Journal of Forest Research doi: 10.1007/s10342-011-0520-6.

Patterns of fuel types and crown fire potential in Pinus halepensis forests in the Western Mediterranean Basin.

Alvarez A, Gracia M, Vayreda J, Retana J (2011) Patterns of fuel types and crown fire potential in Pinus halepensis forests in the Western Mediterranean Basin. Forest Ecology and Management doi:10.1016/j.foreco.2011.01.039.

Invasibility of four plant communities in the Llobregat delta (Catalonia, NE of Spain) in relation to their historical stability.

Pino J, Seguí JM, Alvarez N (2006) Invasibility of four plant communities in the Llobregat delta (Catalonia, NE of Spain) in relation to their historical stability. Hydrobiologia 570: 257-263

Reassessing global change research priorities in mediterranean terrestrial ecosystems: How far have we come and where do we go from here?

Doblas-Miranda E., Martinez-Vilalta J., Lloret F., Alvarez A., Avila A., Bonet F.J., Brotons L., Castro J., Curiel Yuste J., Diaz M., Ferrandis P., Garcia-Hurtado E., Iriondo J.M., Keenan T.F., Latron J., Llusia J., Loepfe L., Mayol M., More G., Moya D., Penuelas J., Pons X., Poyatos R., Sardans J., Sus O., Vallejo V.R., Vayreda J., Retana J. (0) Reassessing global change research priorities in mediterranean terrestrial ecosystems: How far have we come and where do we go from here?. Global Ecology and Biogeography. 24: 25-43.
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Doi: 10.1111/geb.12224

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Aim: Mediterranean terrestrial ecosystems serve as reference laboratories for the investigation of global change because of their transitional climate, the high spatiotemporal variability of their environmental conditions, a rich and unique biodiversity and a wide range of socio-economic conditions. As scientific development and environmental pressures increase, it is increasingly necessary to evaluate recent progress and to challenge research priorities in the face of global change. Location: Mediterranean terrestrial ecosystems. Methods: This article revisits the research priorities proposed in a 1998 assessment. Results: A new set of research priorities is proposed: (1) to establish the role of the landscape mosaic on fire-spread; (2) to further research the combined effect of different drivers on pest expansion; (3) to address the interaction between drivers of global change and recent forest management practices; (4) to obtain more realistic information on the impacts of global change and ecosystem services; (5) to assess forest mortality events associated with climatic extremes; (6) to focus global change research on identifying and managing vulnerable areas; (7) to use the functional traits concept to study resilience after disturbance; (8) to study the relationship between genotypic and phenotypic diversity as a source of forest resilience; (9) to understand the balance between C storage and water resources; (10) to analyse the interplay between landscape-scale processes and biodiversity conservation; (11) to refine models by including interactions between drivers and socio-economic contexts; (12) to understand forest-atmosphere feedbacks; (13) to represent key mechanisms linking plant hydraulics with landscape hydrology. Main conclusions: (1) The interactive nature of different global change drivers remains poorly understood. (2) There is a critical need for the rapid development of regional- and global-scale models that are more tightly connected with large-scale experiments, data networks and management practice. (3) More attention should be directed to drought-related forest decline and the current relevance of historical land use.

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