Effects of fire on the permafrost ground thermal regime

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TypeBook Chapter
Book titleThe Role of Fire in Northern Circumpolar Ecosystems
Pages97110; # of pages: 14
SubjectPermafrost; Soils; effects of fire; thermal properties; cold regions; permafrost regions; organic cover destruction effects
AbstractDiscontinuous permafrost occurs widely in the boreal forest, while throughout the tundra region permafrost is continuous and may be hundreds of metres deep. Until recent years few investigations have been conducted on the effects of fire on the perennially frozen ground in these northern circumpolar ecosystems. Little modification of permafrost conditions takes place during the actual burning, but the partial or complete destruction of the organic cover produces changes in permafrost lasting many years. There are three major effects of fire on permafrost, which are related to the amounts of vegetation and organic soil that are removed: the deepening of the active layer with resultant thermokarst and instability of newly thawed soils or slopes; an increase in soil temperatures; and changes in the ground surface energy exchange regime. These post-fire conditions prevail for many years as natural restoration of burned sites gradually takes place. Long-term observational programmes, which are lacking at present, are required to assess more fully the effects of fire on permafrost.
Publication date
PublisherJohn Wiley and Sons, Publ.; Ross W. Wein and David A Maclean, Eds.
AffiliationNRC Institute for Research in Construction; National Research Council Canada
Peer reviewedNo
NRC number22785
NPARC number20375663
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Record identifier13df0338-d541-4813-b61e-2525b209d691
Record created2012-07-23
Record modified2016-05-09
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