Fuel Loads, Fire Behavior, and Emissions

Pre-fire fuel measurement in a the Tall Timbers Fire Plots (Stoddard Plots). Photo by Kevin Robertson.

Pre-fire fuel measurement at the Tall Timbers Fire Plots (Stoddard Plots). Photo by Kevin Robertson.

Studying predictors of forest fuel loading, fuel consumption, and fire behavior is key to understanding natural fire regimes, predicting wildfire danger, and estimating smoke and particulate matter produced by burning under different conditions. Research in the Fire Ecology Program has focused on the effects of fire frequency, management history, and pine tree stocking on these factors in southeastern U.S. pinelands. One area of focus in collaboration with Florida A&M University has been improved estimation of emission factors for particulate matter (PM, or smoke particles). Emission factors predict the amount of pollutant produced per fuel consumed are important for regional and national emissions inventories and development of air quality policy. Research findings and data are provided to agencies that develop user-friendly computer models that predict fuel loads, fire behavior, and smoke emissions to assist in fire management planning and incident response. These data are also important for understanding plant productivity and carbon cycling on pineland landscapes.


Robertson, K.M. and T.E. Ostertag.  2003.  Fuel characteristics and fire behavior predictions in native and old-field pinelands in the Red Hills Region, southwest Georgia.  Proceedings of the 2nd International Wildland Fire and Fire Management Congress, Orlando, FL.

Robertson, K.M. and T.E. Ostertag. 2006. Effects of land use on fuel characteristics and fire behavior in pinelands of southwest Georgia. Tall Timbers Fire Ecology Conference Proceedings 23:181-191.

Robertson, K.M. and T.E. Ostertag. 2009. Biomass equations for hardwood resprouts in fire-maintained pinelands in the southeastern U.S. Southern Journal of Applied Forestry, 33:121-128.

Hsieh, Y.P., G.C. Bugna and K.M. Robertson. 2010. Chemical signature of biomass burning-emitted PM2.5 and the detection of its presence in the air by a rapid method. Tall Timbers Fire Ecology Conference Proceedings 24:73-78.

Reid, A.M. and K.M. Robertson. 2011. Energy content of common fuels in upland pine forests of the southeastern U.S. and their application to fire behavior modeling. International Journal of Wildland Fire 21:591-595.

Reid, A.M., K.M. Robertson, and T.L. Hmielowski. 2012. Predicting litter and live herb fuel consumption during prescribed fires in native and old-field upland pine communities of the southeastern United States. Canadian Journal of Forest Research 42:1622-1622.

Robertson, K.M., Y.P. Hsieh and G.C. Bugna. 2014. Fire environment effects on particulate matter emission factors in southeastern U.S. pine-grasslands. Atmospheric Environment 99:104-111.

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