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Burning Effects on Soil Temperature in Subalpine Environments. Ethan Larson MRS, University of Colorado-Boulder Spring 2013. Introduction. Fire effects on soil Changes the soil chemistry More C in soil (Knicker, 2007) Increases in inorganic N Soil retains less water (Iverson, 2002)

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burning effects on soil temperature in subalpine environments

Burning Effects onSoil Temperature in Subalpine Environments

Ethan Larson

MRS, University of Colorado-Boulder

Spring 2013

introduction
Introduction
  • Fire effects on soil
    • Changes the soil chemistry
      • More C in soil (Knicker, 2007)
      • Increases in inorganic N
    • Soil retains less water (Iverson, 2002)
      • In the same experiment, soil temperatures in burned areas were on average, higher than that of unburned soils during summer months (may be different for winter).
slide3
Why?
  • Subnivean Residents
    • Soil temperature can affect the animals that live under the snow (Coulson et. al, 1995).
    • Insects usually use soil for insulation so change in soil temperatures can lead to high mortalities (Mail, 1930).
    • Soil temperature can also affect the rate of decomposition that occurs under the snowpack (Schmidt & Lipson, 2003).
  • Snow accumulation/duration
    • Soil temperatures can affect the accumulation of snow, and snowpack can, in return, affect soil temperatures.
    • Snow pack features, such as depth hoars, can only occur when the soil is at a certain temperature (there is a certain temperature gradient).
the question
The Question
  • Do recent burns have an effect on how well the soil retains heat?
  • Hypothesis: Burned soils will be less efficient at retaining heat than healthy (unburned) soils.
methods
Methods
  • Pick a random location
  • Measure:
    • Snow depth (if applicable)
    • Air Temperature
    • Sunlight?
    • Soil Temperature
  • N=10 (per site)
  • Repeat at corresponding

location

fourmile canyon fire
Fourmile Canyon Fire
  • Started September 6, 2010
  • Lasted for 11 days
  • Approximately 10 square miles burned

Image of Fourmile Fire.

Courtesy of Nasa’s Aqua

Satellite

where i was in fourmile
Where I Was in Fourmile
  • Mostly moderate burns; (severe=completely burnt soil, low=no burning at the base, moderate=partial burning at the base)
fourmile results
Fourmile Results
  • Sunshine Road Site:
    • Average Air Temp= 0.8°C
    • Average Healthy Forest Snow Depth=3.5cm
    • Average Burned Forest Snow Depth=2.5cm
    • Average Healthy Soil Temp= 0.8°c
    • Average Burned Soil Temp=0.2 °C
    • P-value of unpaired, two-tailed t-test=0.6774
      • Much greater than 0.05
      • Not significant
fourmile results cont
Fourmile Results Cont.
  • Fourmile Road Site
    • Average Air Temp= 1.8°C
    • Average Healthy Forest Snow Depth=3.6cm
    • Average Burned Forest Snow Depth=3.7cm
    • Average Healthy Soil Temp= 0.5°c
    • Average Burned Soil Temp=0.6 °C
    • P-value of unpaired, two-tailed t-test=0.8569
      • Much greater than 0.05
      • Not significant
flagstaff fire
Flagstaff Fire
  • Started June 26, 2012
  • Lasted 7 days
  • Burned approximately 300 acres
  • Caused by lightning strike
flagstaff results
Flagstaff Results
  • Average Air Temp= -3.3°C
  • Average Healthy Forest Snow Depth=4.3cm
  • Average Burned Forest Snow Depth=3.9cm
  • Average Healthy Soil Temp= -2.9°c
  • Average Burned Soil Temp=-2.2°C
  • P-value of unpaired, two-tailed t-test=0.2731
    • Much greater than 0.05
    • Not significant
overarching results conclusions
Overarching Results/Conclusions
  • There doesn’t appear to be any correlation between recent burning and winter soil temperatures.
    • P-values were all really high, indicating no significance
  • Accepting null hypothesis of no effect.
slide16
But…
  • Temperatures under “deep” snow are more significant
    • P-value of 0.0955
      • Not quite below 0.05 but much closer (more significant).
  • Could justify doing more research on snowier years.
references
References

Baker, Malchus B. “Hydrologic and Water Quality Effects of Fire.” 31-42.

Coulson, Hodkinson, Strathdee, Block, Webb, Bale and Worland. 1995. “Thermal Environments of Arctic Soil Organisms During the Winter.” Arctic and Alpine Research, 27, 364-370.

Iverson, Louis R. 2002. “Soil Temperature and Moisture Fluctuations During and After Prescribed Fire in Mixed-Oak Forests, USA.” Natural Areas Journal, 22, 296-304.

Knicker, Heike. 2007. “How does fire affect the nature and stability of soil organic nitrogen and carbon? A review.” Biogeochemistry, 85, 91-118.

Mail, G. A. 1930. “Winter Soil Temperatures and their Relation to subterranean Insect Survival.” Journal of Agricultural Research, 41, 571-592.

Schmidt, S. K. & D. A. Lipson. 2003. “Microbial growth under the snow: Implications for nutrient and allelochemical availability in temperate soils.” Plant and Soil, 259, 1-7.