Burn on Indian Grave Ridge Road 3-22-13

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.3-22-13 056

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)
    •  grassland
    • woodland
    • lots of small woody fuel
    • conifer needles or duff
    • downed wood from past ice storms
    • other
  • 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?

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