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A modern analogue matching approach to characterize fire temperatures and plant species from charcoal

Author(s): S. Yoshi Maezumi, William D. Gosling, Judith Kirschner, Manuel Chevalier, Henk L. Cornelissen, Thilo Heinecke, Crystal H. McMichael
Year Published: 2021
Description:

Charcoal identification and the quantification of its abundance in sedimentary archives is commonly used to reconstruct fire frequency and the amounts of biomass burning. There are, however, limited metrics to measure past fire temperature and fuel type (i.e. the types of plants that comprise the fuel load), which are important for fully understanding the impact of past fire regimes. Here, we expand the modern reference dataset of charcoal spectra derived from micro-Fourier Transformed Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIR) and apply an analogue matching model to estimate the maximum pyrolysis temperature and the type of plant material burned. We generated laboratory-created reference charcoal from nine plant species that were heated to six temperature categories (100 °C increments between 200 °C-700 °C). The analogue matching approach used on the FTIR spectra of charcoal estimated the maximum pyrolysis temperatures with an accuracy of 57%, which improved to 93% when accuracy was considered ±100 °C. Model accuracy for the type of plant material burned was 38% at the species level, which increased to 67% when species were grouped into trait-based categories. Our results show that analogue matching is an effective approach for estimating pyrolysis temperature and the type of plant material burned, and we suggest that it can also be applied to charcoal found in palaeoecological records, improving our understanding of past fire regimes and fuel dynamics.

Citation: Maezumi, S. Yoshi; Gosling, William D.; Kirschner, Judith; Chevalier, Manuel; Cornelissen, Henk L.; Heinecke, Thilo; McMichael, Crystal N.H. 2021. A modern analogue matching approach to characterize fire temperatures and plant species from charcoal. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 578:110580. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.palaeo.2021.110580
Topic(s): Fire History, Fire & Fuels Modeling, Fuels
Ecosystem(s): None
Document Type: Book or Chapter or Journal Article
NRFSN number: 23709
FRAMES RCS number: 64109
Record updated: Oct 19, 2021