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Heating-Related Water Transport to Intact Lodgepole Pine Branches

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Woody plants may have the ability to transport water to heated foliated branches. If so, additional water vaporized could have a significant impact on energy absorbed by heated plant crowns. To investigate this, we compared energy absorbed by similar intact and detached branches of well-watered lodgepole pine trees (Pinus contorta Dougl. ex Loud.) during heating in a specially designed calorimeter. When heated to 250°C, intact branches absorbed 49% more energy than detached branches; an amount equivalent to 0.62 g more of water per gram of dry branch vaporized from intact than from detached branches. After heating, no water remained in the detached branches, while intact branches had a mean residual water content of 10.8%. These results indicate that significant amounts of water can be transported to, and vaporized from, heated branches of non-drought-stressed lodgepole pine trees. Hence, by accounting only for the initial water contained in heated foliated branches, current fire behavior models improperly calculate energy absorption by heated woody plant crowns. For. Sci. 36(2):246-254.

Keywords: Crown fire; fire danger; forest fire; live fuels; preheating

Document Type: Journal Article

Affiliations: Principal Plant Physiologist, Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station, USDA, Forest Service, Fort Collins, CO 80526

Publication date: June 1, 1990

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