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Fire in California's Ecosystems$
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Neil Sugihara

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780520246058

Published to California Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520246058.001.0001

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Fire and Physical Environment Interactions

Soil, Water, and Air

Chapter:
(p.75) chapter 5 Fire and Physical Environment Interactions
Source:
Fire in California's Ecosystems
Author(s):

Peter M. Wohlgemuth

Ken Hubbert

Michael J. Arbaugh

Publisher:
University of California Press
DOI:10.1525/california/9780520246058.003.0005

This chapter describes the interactions of fire with the soil, water, and air components of the physical environment. Fire can change soil properties, such as soil texture, bulk density and porosity, infiltration and permeability, color and mineralogy, water and organic matter content, acidity, exchangeable cations, and rates of mineralization of nitrogen and phosphorus. Burning affects the chemical properties of soils by converting organic matter, including the residues in the litter layer, to ash. Hillslope hydrology changes after a fire, in part because of altered soil conditions of structure and water repellency. Fires can directly impact stream channels by killing the instream vegetation and changing riparian habitats. They also affect air quality by introducing smoke and the residues of combustion into the atmosphere. Negative impacts of atmospheric N deposition may be occurring in California’s ecosystems. Increased post-fire dry ravel and surface runoff greatly accelerate hillslope surface erosion.

Keywords:   fire, soil, water, air, physical environment, burning, hillslope hydrology, California, surface erosion, ash

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