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Temperate peatland carbon emissions: Contributions of wildfire vegetation and organic soil consumption
11:20 AM - 11:40 AM
Tue Nov 28, 2017
Sabal G


Authors: Robert Mickler; Andrew Bailey

Temperate peatlands cover an estimated 35.0 Mha and store 455 Pg of C. Temperate coastal peatlands are a unique ecoregion where high-intersity, long-duration wildfires consume above-ground vegetation during the initial flaming stage and the subsequent smoldering stage combustion of the organic soils is responsible for the majority of total C emissions. We estimated above- and below-ground C emissions from a 2011 wildfire by analyzing vegetation C losses from field surveys of biomass consumption and soil C losses derived from the Soil Survey Geographic Database, a digital elevation model derived from airborne optical remote-sensing technology and ground elevation surveys using a Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) receiver. The estimate of below-ground C emissions employed a comparison of pre- and post-fire LIDAR-derived elevation, and a pre-fire LIDAR-derived elevation from ground return points coupled with post-fire survey-grade GPS elevation measurements from co-located ground return points. Above-ground C emissions were characterized for litter, shrub foliage and woody biomass, and tree foliage in different vegetation classes. The peatland wildfire had a mean peat burn depth of 12.9 cm and resulted in estimated below-ground fire emissions of 5,239,510 t C and above-ground fire emissions of 289,578 t C, for total fire emissions of 5,529,088 t C.

Robert Mickler
Dept. of Forestry Faculty, North Carolina State University

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