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Short Course on methods and techniques to study soils affected by fire
Convener: Paulo Pereira  | Co-Conveners: Antonio Jordán , Guillermo Rein , Victoria Arcenegui , Lorena M. Zavala 
Tue, 09 Apr, 15:30–17:00  / Room R2

Tuesday, 9 April 2013
15:30 - 17:00
Room R2

Fire is a global phenomenon with important implications in many world ecosystems. Tropical, temperate, Mediterranean and boreal areas are affected recurrently by fire, which has shaped these ecosystems, altered their characteristics and changed their distribution. Thus fire is considered as a natural element with a wide range of diverse impacts. Among these, the impact on soils is the objective and focus of the course.
Soil properties can be substantially changed in space and time after fire. These changes can produce positive or negative impacts on the system, depending on the type of soil affected and fire severity. Fire severity and the degree of change depends in turn on fire behaviour and temperatures reached in soil, the residence time, and other biophysical variables (ecosystem type, fuel characteristics, topography, weather, etc.).
These changes can lead to deep post-fire changes in the ecosystem. Vegetation canopy is dramatically reduced by burning, increasing soil erosion risk and altering soil properties as water infiltration rates, hydrophobicity, structure, chemical and biological properties. In addition, the ash deposited has important physical, hydrological and chemical effects. The importance of these impacts depends especially on the post-fire conditions (wind and rain) and topography of the burned area. The combined degree of all these variables determines the ability of the ecosystem to recover.
A novel topic related to soils and fires is smouldering. Smouldering combustion, the slow, low-temperature, flameless burning of porous soil organic layers, like peatlands, represents the most persistent type of combustion phenomena and leads to the largest fires on Earth. Smouldering mega-fires involving peat occur with considerable frequency in Indonesia, Canada, Russia, USA and the UK. In terms of mass removal, burnt layers loss most of its organic content (up to 90% of its mass in peat). Moreover, the prolonged heating rates from smouldering result in high severity. Temperatures in excess of 300 °C for residence times of 1 h lead to sterilization of the soil and severe irreversible changes of physical, chemical and biological nature.

The objective of the course is to revise recent methods used for the study of fire effects on soil properties and post-fire management. Some results from fire impacts in soils from some earth biomes (e.g., Boreal and Mediterranean) will be presented.
Students will receive knowledge about the effects of fire on soil properties and management in order to understand the effects of fire in the ecosystems, always from the perspective of fire as a global phenomenon.

Bachelor, Master, PhD students and professionals working in forest management.

-LITFIRE, Fire effects in Lithuanian soils and ecosystems (MIP-048/2011), funded by the Lithuanian Research Council.
-HYDFIRE, Water repellency in Mediterranean fire-affected soils. Involved factors, temporal changes and implications for hydrology and soil system functioning (CGL2010-21670-C02-01), funded by the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness.
-FIRECNUTS - WildFIRE effects on topsoil Carbon and NUTrient Stocks, dynamics and exports, funded by the Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT; PTDC/AGR-CFL/104559/2008) of Portugal, with co-funding by FEDER through the COMPETE Programme.
-FUEGORED (, Spanish Network of Fire Effects on Soil Properties.

15:30-15:40. Opening ceremony (Dr. Paulo Pereira, Dr. Antonio Jordán, Dr. Guillermo Rein)
15:40-15:55. Methodologies for measuring rainsplash effects in fire-affected soils. Dr. María Fernández-Raga (University of León, Spain)
15:55-16:10. Methods for studying soil and water conservation after fires. Dr. António Ferreira (Polytechnic Institute of Coimbra, Portugal)
16:10-16:25. Measurement methods of post-fire export of sediments, nutrients and pollutants by runoff. From the plot- to catchment-scale. Dr. Jan Jacob Keizer (University of Aveiro, Portugal)
16:25-16:40. Methods to study the extent, depth and damage of smouldering fires in organic soils. Dr. Guillermo Rein (Imperial College London, UK)
16:40-16:55. Physico-chemical and spectroscopic investigations of organic matter evolution in peat affected by smouldering. Dr. Claudio Zaccone (University of Foggia, Italy)
16:55-17:00. Closing ceremony and delivery of the certificates of participation.

Public information: Speakers: Paulo Pereira (Mykolas Romeris University, Lithuania), Antonio Jordán (University of Sevilla, Spain), Guillermo Rein (Imperial College London, UK), María Fernández-Raga (University of León, Spain), António Ferreira (Polytechnic Institute of Coimbra, Portugal), Jan Jacob Keizer (University of Aveiro, Portugal) and Claudio Zaccone (University of Foggia, Italy)