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Fire severity in a northern Australian savanna landscape: the importance of time since previous fire


Murphy, BP and Russell-Smith, J, Fire severity in a northern Australian savanna landscape: the importance of time since previous fire, International Journal of Wildland Fire, 19, (1) pp. 46-51. ISSN 1049-8001 (2010) [Refereed Article]

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Copyright © 2010 CSIRO

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DOI: doi:10.1071/WF08202


Using a detailed fire history collected over a 10-year period throughout a savanna landscape in northern Australia, we have addressed the question of whether fire severity, inferred from a semiquantitative fire severity index, increases with time since previous fire. There was a clear trend of fires becoming much more severe with increasing time since previous fire. Between 1 and 5 years following a fire, the probability of a subsequent fire being classified as ‘severe’ increased from 3 to 8% for early dry-season fires, and from 21 to 43% for late dry-season fires. It was clear that the strong increase in fire severity was not confined to the first 2–3 years following the previous fire, as previously suspected. These findings highlight the difficulty of reducing both fire frequency and severity in northern Australian savanna landscapes, as they imply that a negative feedback process exists between the two; that is, reducing fire frequency is likely to increase the severity of fires that do occur.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:fire intensity, fuel accumulation, tropical savanna.
Research Division:Environmental Sciences
Research Group:Environmental management
Research Field:Environmental management
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Terrestrial systems and management
Objective Field:Evaluation, allocation, and impacts of land use
UTAS Author:Murphy, BP (Dr Brett Murphy)
ID Code:67116
Year Published:2010
Web of Science® Times Cited:37
Deposited By:Plant Science
Deposited On:2011-02-25
Last Modified:2012-01-19

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