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Deriving forest canopy fuel parameters for loblolly pine forests in eastern Texas

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Crown fires, the fastest spreading of all forest fires, can occur in any forest type throughout the world. The overall aim of this study was to estimate forest canopy fuel parameters including canopy bulk density and canopy base height for loblolly pines ( Pinus taeda L.) at the plot level using both allometric equations and CrownMass/FMAPlus software. Allometric equation results were compared with the CrownMass outputs for validation. According to our results, the calculated average canopy bulk density values, across all 50 plots, were 0.18 and 0.07 kg/m3 for the allometric equation and the CrownMass program, respectively. Lorey’s mean height approach was used in this study to calculate canopy base height at the plot level. The average height values of canopy base height obtained from the Lorey height approach was 10.6 m and from the CrownMass program was 9.1 m. The results obtained for the two methods are relatively close to each other, with the estimate of canopy base height being 1.16 times larger than the CrownMass value. This study provides a practical method for quantifying these parameters and making them directly available to fire managers. The accuracy of these parameters is very important for realistic predictions of wildfire initiation and growth.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1139/x11-082

Affiliations: 1: Spatial Science Laboratory, Department of Ecosystem Science and Management, Texas A&M University, 1500 Research Parkway, Suite B221, College Station, TX 77843, USA. 2: Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, Air Quality Division, P.O. Box 13087/MC-164, Austin, TX 78711-3087, USA.

Publication date: August 27, 2011

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  • Published since 1971, this monthly journal features articles, reviews, notes and commentaries on all aspects of forest science, including biometrics and mensuration, conservation, disturbance, ecology, economics, entomology, fire, genetics, management, operations, pathology, physiology, policy, remote sensing, social science, soil, silviculture, wildlife and wood science, contributed by internationally respected scientists. It also publishes special issues dedicated to a topic of current interest.
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