Experimental methods and scales in smouldering wildfires

Eirik Christensen, Yuqi Hu, Francesco Restuccia, Muhammad Agung Santoso, Xinyan Huang, Guillermo Rein

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Smouldering is the slow, low temperature, flameless form of combustion, and leads to the largest fires on Earth in terms of mass of fuel consumed. It is a phenomena that occurring in a soils which are inherently highly spatially and temporally variable. Experimental research of smouldering fires must span a broad scale; from the micro-scale up to orders of kilometres, in order to understand their behaviour. Based on literature the experimental studies can be divided into 3 scales; 1) micro-scale, examining the chemical nature of smouldering using milligram scale samples, 2) meso-scale, on the order of kilograms - exploring how they ignite and spread, and 3) field scale, on the order of tons, which studies fires in nature – understanding their damage to the ecosystem and their footprint. Each of these scales can aid, inform, and are integral to the understanding from the other scales – and allow for the advancement of science. This chapter discusses the experimental methods available at each scale, with a focus on the meso-scale, and provides guidance towards identifying the strength and limitations of experimental studies.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationFire Effects on Soil Properties
PublisherCSIRO Publishing
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - 2019


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