Title

An Analysis on the Effects of Burn Severity on Organic Matter in the Snag Canyon Fire

Presenter Information

Hannah Pygott
Kelsey Mueller

Document Type

Oral Presentation

Location

SURC Ballroom B/C/D

Start Date

21-5-2015

End Date

21-5-2015

Keywords

Fire, Soil, Organics

Abstract

Depending on severity, wildfires can slow forest regrowth, the more intense fires removing soil organic matter and, in turn, leaving the soil less fertile. We analyzed the effect of fire severity on soil organic matter and texture within the Snag Canyon Fire which was caused by lightning in extremely dry conditions in the summer of 2014. We hypothesized an inverse relationship between fire severity and soil organic matter in burned areas and a change in soil properties. We first analyzed satellite imagery to identify low, intermediate, and high intensity burned areas within the overall fire boundary. Next, we collected 30 soil samples from each burn severity to measure organic matter via mass lost on ignition. In addition, we conducted a soil texture test in the field to infer soil type. We found significantly less organic matter within the high burn severity zone compared to the low and intermediate burn severity zones, ANOVA p<0.005. We also found that soil texture was coarser in the high burn severity area due to the lack of finer organic content compared to the area’s normal soil type. Our findings support the idea that fire severity can have significant effects on soil characteristics and organic content. This information is important for land managers focused on post-fire landscape rehabilitation and erosion control. Lastly, the satellite data did not accurately represent what we found in the field, which emphasizes that field work is required to ensure accuracy of burn severity analysis when using remotely sensed data.

Poster Number

25

Faculty Mentor(s)

Clay Arango

Department/Program

Environmental Studies

Additional Mentoring Department

Environmental Studies

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May 21st, 8:30 AM May 21st, 11:00 AM

An Analysis on the Effects of Burn Severity on Organic Matter in the Snag Canyon Fire

SURC Ballroom B/C/D

Depending on severity, wildfires can slow forest regrowth, the more intense fires removing soil organic matter and, in turn, leaving the soil less fertile. We analyzed the effect of fire severity on soil organic matter and texture within the Snag Canyon Fire which was caused by lightning in extremely dry conditions in the summer of 2014. We hypothesized an inverse relationship between fire severity and soil organic matter in burned areas and a change in soil properties. We first analyzed satellite imagery to identify low, intermediate, and high intensity burned areas within the overall fire boundary. Next, we collected 30 soil samples from each burn severity to measure organic matter via mass lost on ignition. In addition, we conducted a soil texture test in the field to infer soil type. We found significantly less organic matter within the high burn severity zone compared to the low and intermediate burn severity zones, ANOVA p<0.005. We also found that soil texture was coarser in the high burn severity area due to the lack of finer organic content compared to the area’s normal soil type. Our findings support the idea that fire severity can have significant effects on soil characteristics and organic content. This information is important for land managers focused on post-fire landscape rehabilitation and erosion control. Lastly, the satellite data did not accurately represent what we found in the field, which emphasizes that field work is required to ensure accuracy of burn severity analysis when using remotely sensed data.