Fire Phenomena and the Earth System An Interdisciplinary Guide to Fire Science

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  • Edition: 1st
  • Format: eBook
  • Copyright: 2013-04-10
  • Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell

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Fire plays a key role in Earth system processes. Wildfires influence the carbon cycle and the nutrient balance of our planet, and may even play a role in regulating the oxygen content of our atmosphere. The evolutionary history of plants has been intimately tied to fire and this in part explains the distribution of our ecosystems and their ability to withstand the effects of natural fires today.

Fire Phenomena and the Earth System brings together the various subdisciplines within fire science to provide a synthesis of our understanding of the role of wildfire in the Earth system. The book shows how knowledge of fire phenomena and the nature of combustion of natural fuels can be used to understand modern wildfires, interpret fire events in the geological record and to understand the role of fire in a variety of Earth system processes. By bringing together chapters written by leading international researchers from a range of geological, environmental, chemical and engineering disciplines, the book will stimulate the exchange of ideas and knowledge across these subject areas. Fire Phenomena and the Earth System provides a truly interdisciplinary guide that can inform us about Earth’s past, present and beyond.

Readership: Advanced students and researchers across a wide range of earth, environmental and life sciences, including biogeochemistry, paleoclimatology, atmospheric science, palaeontology and paleoecology, combustion science, ecology and forestry.

Author Biography

Claire M. Belcher is Senior Lecturer in Earth System Science at the University of Exeter. Prior to this she held a unique joint position as a Marie Curie Fellow at the School of Geosciences and BRE Centre for Fire Safety Engineering at the University of Edinburgh. Her research is internationally recognised for integrating state-of-the-art modern experimental methods into studies of Earth’s ancient past. She is not only seen as a leader in her field but also as an innovator and facilitator of interdisciplinary research within fire science, an approach which is reflected in this book.

Table of Contents

Contributors, vii

Foreword, ix

Preface, xii

Acknowledgements, xv


1 An Introduction to Combustion in Organic Materials, 3
Jose L. Torero

2 Smouldering Fires and Natural Fuels, 15
Guillermo Rein

3 Experimental Understanding of Wildland Fires, 35
Albert Simeoni

4 Wildfire Behaviour and Danger Ratings, 53
Eulalia Planas and Elsa Pastor

5 Satellite Remote Sensing of Fires, 77
David P. Roy, Luigi Boschetti and Alistair M.S. Smith


6 Understanding Fire Regimes and the Ecological Effects of Fire, 97
G. Matt Davies

7 Plant Adaptations to Fire: an Evolutionary Perspective, 125
Jeremy J. Midgley and William J. Bond

8 Fire and the Land Surface, 135
Stefan H. Doerr and Richard A. Shakesby

9 Identification of Black Carbon in the Earth System, 157
Karen Hammes and Samuel Abiven


10 Identifying Past Fire Events, 179
Ian J. Glasspool and Andrew C. Scott

11 A 21 000-Year History of Fire, 207
Mitchell J. Power

12 A 450-Million-Year History of Fire, 229
Claire M. Belcher, Margaret E. Collinson and Andrew C. Scott


13 Evaluating the Atmospheric Impact of Wildfires, 253
Solene Turquety

14 The Dependence of Flame Spread and Probability of Ignition on Atmospheric Oxygen: an Experimental Investigation, 273
Andrew J. Watson and James E. Lovelock

15 Fire Feedbacks on Atmospheric Oxygen, 289
Timothy M. Lenton

16 Biochar and Carbon Sequestration, 309
Ondøej Mašek

Index, 323

Colour plate section 1 falls between pages 16 and 17

Colour plate section 2 falls between pages 192 and 193

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