AbstractForest fires spread via production and combustion of pyrolysis gases in the understory. The goal of the present paper is to understand the spatial location, distribution, and fraction (relative to the overstory) of understory plants, in this case, sparkleberry shrub, namely its degree of understory consumption upon burn, and to search for correlations between the degree of shrub consumption to the composition of emitted pyrolysis gases. Data were collected in situ at seven small experimental prescribed burns at Ft. Jackson, an army base in South Carolina, USA. Using airborne laser scanning (ALS) to map overstory tree crowns and terrestrial laser scanning (TLS) to characterize understory shrub fuel density, both pre- and postburn estimates of sparkleberry coverage were obtained. Sparkleberry clump polygons were manually digitized from a UAV-derived orthoimage of the understory and intersected with the TLS point cloud-derived rasters of pre- and postburn shrub fuel bulk density; these were compared in relation to overstory crown cover as well as to ground truth. Shrub fuel consumption was estimated from the digitized images; sparkleberry clump distributions were generally found to not correlate well to the overstory tree crowns, suggesting it is shade-tolerant. Moreover, no relationship was found between the magnitude of the fuel consumption and the chemical composition of pyrolysis gases, even though mixing ratios of 25 individual gases were measured.
Published: September 23, 2022