Title

Variability in Charcoal Deposition into Lake Basins within the Taylor Bridge Fire, Washington

Presenter Information

Devin Dykes
Megan Walsh

Document Type

Oral Presentation

Location

SURC Ballroom C/D

Start Date

15-5-2014

End Date

15-5-2014

Keywords

fire history, paleoecology, charcoal

Abstract

As a result of climate change and more than a hundred years of fire suppression, the risk of catastrophic wildfires in the western United States has increased dramatically. This is especially true in the dry ponderosa pine forests of the eastern Cascades. The Taylor Bridge fire, which occurred in such an environment, burned during the summer of 2012. By the time of its containment it had burned approximately 23,000 acres east of the town of Cle Elum, Washington, and consumed 61 homes. This created the ideal situation in which to study charcoal accumulation into lake sediments following fire. Two small lakes, Cabin Lake and Little Lake, lie within the fire perimeter and were targeted for this study. In fall 2013, lake sediment cores were extracted from both sites using a Bolivia short coring device lowered from a raft. Two 35-cm long cores were taken from the center of Cabin Lake, and three 15-cm long cores were obtained from a transect across Little Lake. The cores were analyzed using macroscopic charcoal and loss-on-ignition analysis at 1-cm intervals. These methods illustrate how charcoal accumulation, organic content, and carbonate content changes with depth in the cores, and also varies between the two sites. The results of this analysis show that charcoal deposition varies in both space and time, most likely as a result of topography, fuel availability, and fire severity within different areas of the burn. This information is important for interpreting charcoal records when reconstructing long-term fire history.

Poster Number

32

Faculty Mentor(s)

Walsh, Megan

Additional Mentoring Department

Geography

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May 15th, 11:30 AM May 15th, 2:00 PM

Variability in Charcoal Deposition into Lake Basins within the Taylor Bridge Fire, Washington

SURC Ballroom C/D

As a result of climate change and more than a hundred years of fire suppression, the risk of catastrophic wildfires in the western United States has increased dramatically. This is especially true in the dry ponderosa pine forests of the eastern Cascades. The Taylor Bridge fire, which occurred in such an environment, burned during the summer of 2012. By the time of its containment it had burned approximately 23,000 acres east of the town of Cle Elum, Washington, and consumed 61 homes. This created the ideal situation in which to study charcoal accumulation into lake sediments following fire. Two small lakes, Cabin Lake and Little Lake, lie within the fire perimeter and were targeted for this study. In fall 2013, lake sediment cores were extracted from both sites using a Bolivia short coring device lowered from a raft. Two 35-cm long cores were taken from the center of Cabin Lake, and three 15-cm long cores were obtained from a transect across Little Lake. The cores were analyzed using macroscopic charcoal and loss-on-ignition analysis at 1-cm intervals. These methods illustrate how charcoal accumulation, organic content, and carbonate content changes with depth in the cores, and also varies between the two sites. The results of this analysis show that charcoal deposition varies in both space and time, most likely as a result of topography, fuel availability, and fire severity within different areas of the burn. This information is important for interpreting charcoal records when reconstructing long-term fire history.