Fire and Fire-Suppression Impacts on Forest-Soil Carbon
This chapter discusses the impact of fire on soil carbon (C) pools, recovery after fire, the effects of a fire-suppression policy on soil C, methods to estimate C losses from fire, and the implications of fire management on soil C cycling and sequestration. Fire temperature, expressed as maximum ground temperature, is an important variable in soil C loss. While most soil C is lost as a direct result of the combustion process, changes in the decomposition rate of soil organic matter can also play a key role in C storage. Many wildfires burn hotter than most prescribed fires and are associated with greater losses of soil C. Many ecosystems, particularly in the western United States, are overloaded with surface fuels that have accumulated from fire suppression. A lowering of soil productivity after fire would reduce future soil C sequestration, since biomass production in the subsequent stands would be less.