Influence of Fuel Moisture and Density on Black Carbon Formation During Combustion of Boreal Peat Fuels
Principal Investigator(s):
Co-Principal Investigator(s):
  • R. Gregory Corace III
    US Fish and Wildlife Service, Seney National Wildlife Refuge
  • Evan S. Kane
    Michigan Technological University
  • Michael J. Falkowski
    Colorado State University
  • Robert E. Keane II
    US Forest Service, Missoula Fire Sciences Laboratory
  • JoAnn G. Moretti
Completion Date: September 3, 2015

Cataloging Information

  • black carbon
  • boreal peatland
  • Canada
  • fuel moisture
JFSP Project Number(s):
Record Maintained By:
Record Last Modified: August 15, 2016
FRAMES Record Number: 21101


The goals of the proposed research are to develop fire management and modeling tools to predict particulate carbon production and black carbon (BC) conversion rates during combustion of organic peat soils common to boreal forested and non-forested ecosystems of the Great Lakes region, Alaska, and Canada. We will test the control of fuel moisture on the generation of BC and particulates using controlled combustion trials of peat soils from Michigans Seney National Wildlife Refuge (SNWR) with experimental gradients of fuel moisture. Combustion trials will be conducted at the USFS Fire Lab in Missoula, MT, with concurrent quantification of particulates and hydrocarbons via the smoke plume as well as BC and char surface deposition. This study will capitalize on planned prescribed burns in the peat soils of SNWR, which afford the unique opportunity to monitor fuel moisture and peat physical properties prior to and immediately following burning, as well as to spatially quantify BC and char conversion rates during wetland prescribed burning. By integrating the observations from the prescribed burn and the results of the experimental combustion trials, we will gain insight as to how emission factors and BC conversion rates are influenced by fuel and combustion characteristics. Moreover, detailed spectroradiometry data will be collected prior to and following the prescribed burning to assess the use of spectral remote sensing products for projecting BC generation potential. The data collected during this study will build on previous and on-going studies of the drivers of boreal ground fuel combustion. The results of this research will provide tools for fuel and fire behavior models on the generation of BC, as well as smoke emission and BC transport models involving the warming potential and human health implications of particulate matter in smoke. Specific deliverables will include: 1) empirical models of the influence of fuel moisture on BC conversion rates and particulate emissions during combustion of peat fuels, 2) quantification of particulate emissions and spatial patterns of BC generation and deposition during wetland prescribed burning, and 3) primary data on the spectroradiometric characteristics of charred post-fire peatland surfaces as well as dominant peat fuels varying in moisture content before and after burning. Other products include peer reviewed publications and a graduate thesis, presentations at scientific meetings, and workshops for resource managers, policymakers, and fire modeling researchers. Work will be advertised to other scientists and the public through communication with the recently formed JFSP-funded Lake States Fire Consortium and the SNWR Visitor Center.