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Effects of fire on ash thickness in a Lithuanian grassland and short-term spatio-temporal changes

Author(s): P. Pereira | A. Cerdà | X. Úbeda | J. Mataix-Solera | D. Martin | A. Jordán | M. Burguet

Journal: Solid Earth Discussions
ISSN 1869-9537

Volume: 4;
Issue: 2;
Start page: 1545;
Date: 2012;
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Ash thickness is a key variable in the protection of soil against erosion agents after planned and unplanned fires. Thicker ash provides better protection against raindrop impact and reduces the runoff response by retaining water and promoting water infiltration although little is known about the distribution and the evolution of the ash layer after the fires. Ash thickness measurements were conducted along two transects (flat and sloping areas) following a a grid experimental design. Both transects extended from the burned area into an adjacent unburned area. We analysed ash thickness evolution according to time and fire severity. In order to interpolate data with accuracy and identify the techniques with the least bias, several interpolation methods were tested in the grid plot. Overall, the fire had a low severity. The fire significantly reduced the ground cover, especially on sloping areas owing to the higher fire severity and/or less biomass previous to the fire. Ash thickness depends on fire severity and is thin where fire severity was higher and thicker in lower fire severity sites. The ash thickness decreased with time after the fire. Between 4 and 16 days after the fire, ash was transported by wind. The major reduction took place between 16 and 34 days after the fire as a result of rainfall, and was more efficient where fire severity was higher. Between 34 and 45 days after the fire no significant differences in ash thickness were identified among ash colours and only traces of the ash layer remained. The omni-directional experimental variograms shown that variable structure did not change importantly with the time, however, the most accurate interpolation methods were different highlighting the slight different patterns of ash thickness distribution with the time. The ash spatial variability increased with the time, particularly on the slope, as a result of water erosion.
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