Moisture content variation of ground vegetation fuels in boreal mesic and sub-xeric mineral soil forests in Finland
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CitationLindberg, Henrik. Aakala, Tuomas. Vanha-Majamaa, Ilkka. (2021). Moisture content variation of ground vegetation fuels in boreal mesic and sub-xeric mineral soil forests in Finland. International journal of wildland fire, [Online ahead of print 2021], 10.1071/WF20085.
Forest fire risk in Finland is estimated with the Finnish Forest Fire Index (FFI), which predicts the fuel moisture content (FMC) of the forest floor. We studied the FMC variation of four typical ground vegetation fuels, Pleurozium schreberi, Hylocomium splendens, Dicranum spp., and Cladonia spp., and raw humus in mature and recently clear-cut stands. Of these, six were sub-xeric Pinus sylvestris stands, and six mesic Picea abies stands. We analysed the ability of the FFI to predict FMC and compared it with the widely applied Canadian Fire Weather Index (FWI). We found that in addition to stand characteristics, ground layer FMC was highly dependent on the species so that Dicranum was the moistest, and Cladonia the driest. In the humus layer, the differences among species were small. Overall, the FWI was a slightly better predictor of FMC than the FFI. While the FFI generally predicted ground layer FMC well, the shape of the relationship varied among the four species. The use of auxiliary variables thus has potential in improving predictions of ignitions and forest fire risk. Knowledge of FMC variation could also benefit planning and timing of prescribed burns.