An experimental fire was conducted in one-year-old mulched (masticated) boreal fuels, where all aboveground biomass was mulched with no stems removed or left standing. Typical mulching practices remove remnant biomass; leaving biomass in situ reduces overall management input. While fuel quantities were not explicitly reduced, availability of fuels to fire was reduced. Infrared imagery was obtained to quantify rate of spread and intensity to a 1 m resolution. In-stand totalizing heat flux sensors allowed for the observation of energy release near the surface. When compared with the pre-treatment fuel-type M-2 (mixedwood, 50% conifer), rates of spread were reduced 87% from an expected 8 m min-1 to observed values 1.2 m min-1. Intensity was also reduced from 5000 kWm-1 to 650kWm-1 on average. Intermittent gusts caused surges of fire intensity upwards of 5000 kW m-1 as captured by the infrared imagery. With reference to a logging slash fuel type, observed spread rates declined by 87% and intensity 98%. Independent observations of energy release rates from the radiometers showed similar declines. As mulching is a prevalent fuel management technique in Alberta, Canada, future studies will contribute to the development of a fire behaviour prediction model.
prescribed fire; mulch; mastication; boreal; black spruce