Measuring a Fire. The Story of the January 2019 Fire Told from Measurements at the Warra Supersite, Tasmania

by Tim Wardlaw

ARC Centre for Forest Value, University of Tasmania, Sandy Bay, Tasmania 7005, Australia

Academic Editors: Crystal A. Kolden, Rebecca Harris and David Bowman

Fire 20214(2), 15; https://doi.org/10.3390/fire4020015

Received: 25 February 2021 / Revised: 23 March 2021 / Accepted: 24 March 2021 / Published: 25 March 2021
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Bushfire in Tasmania)

Abstract

Non-stand-replacing wildfires are the most common natural disturbance in the tall eucalypt forests of Tasmania, yet little is known about the conditions under which these fires burn and the effects they have on the forest. A dry lightning storm in January 2019 initiated the Riveaux Road fire.

This fire burnt nearly 64,000 ha of land, including tall eucalypt forests at the Warra Supersite. At the Supersite, the passage of the fire was recorded by a suite of instruments measuring weather conditions and fluxes (carbon, water and energy), while a network of permanent plots measured vegetation change.

Weather conditions in the lead-up and during the passage of the fire through the Supersite were mild—a moderate forest fire danger index. The passage of the fire through the Supersite caused a short peak in air temperature coinciding with a sharp rise in CO2 emissions.

Fine fuels and ground vegetation were consumed but the low intensity fire only scorched the understorey trees, which subsequently died and left the Eucalyptus obliqua canopy largely intact. In the aftermath of the fire, there was prolific seedling regeneration, a sustained reduction in leaf area index, and the forest switched from being a carbon sink before the fire to becoming a carbon source during the first post-fire growing season.

Read the full article here.