Fuel Dynamics, Nutrients, and Atmospheric Chemistry

  • Garry D. Cook
Part of the Ecological Studies book series (ECOLSTUD, volume 169)


Much of the Top End of the Northern Territory experiences fire every year, or in two years out of three (Chapter 1). This chapter has presented a range of reasons for concern over such high fire frequency, including:

The potential for unsustainable losses of nitrogen Emissions of greenhouse gases from fine fuel combustion Reduced carbon sequestration in woody biomass Possible effects on human health of particulates in smoke

The effects of fire regime on carbon sequestration in woody biomass is a particularly important issue requiring further research. Modeled fuel accumulation curves show that frequent burning has only a marginal impact on longer-term fuel loads, unless it is annual, owing to rapid decomposition. It is therefore not appropriate to use highly frequent fires to manage fuel accumulation, such as might be the case in temperate forests. However, management can influence fire intensity through the seasonal timing of fire. To the extent that prescribed fires lit early during the dry season reduce the extent of higher intensity fire later in the year, fire management can have a significant effect on tree biomass and thereby carbon sequestration. Further research is required into the long-term dynamics of tree populations and their associated carbon storage under various fire regimes.


Emission Factor Fuel Accumulation Atmospheric Chemistry Fuel Load Litter Fall 
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© Springer-Verlag New York, Inc. 2003

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  • Garry D. Cook

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