One of my favorite things about working for an organization that manages thousands of acres of natural forest is the frequent opportunity to participate in burning things up. Fire is a creative force so complex as to be almost wholly mystery. This photo is of a recent burn at Bernheim on Indian Grave Ridge road. This particular burn helps maintain a native grassland and its’ intersection with an oak woodland.
Here’s a list of factors/variables that might likely effect how any given ecosystem responds to fire:
- Periodicity – how often does a fire occur?
- Seasonality – when does the fire occur?
- Intensity – how hot does the fire get?
- Weather conditions:
- Wind speed
- Wind direction
- Relative humidity
- Humidity in the fuel
- Precipitation during the fire
- Fuel type (or fuel model – fire lingo)
- lots of small woody fuel
- conifer needles or duff
- downed wood from past ice storms
- Scale – how big is the area that burned?
- Geometry – what is the shape of the burned area? round? linear?
- Topography – flat? slope?
- Weather conditions subsequent to the fire
- Coverage – was it completely burned? spotty?
- Soil structure
- Proximity to other influencing conditions – new seed sources? other fires?
Help me out here please. What else can you think of that might influence the reaction of an ecosystem to fire?