Scientists scorched a large tract of land and stumbled on an in interesting find: soil does not always burn when lit on fire. Scientists believed that the large fire would scorch the 22-acres of land in the Portugal experiment but were surprised to see that the soil would not always be damaged by by extreme heat conditions.
While wildfires can leave the soil barren, the soil can be preserved in certain scenarios. As a part of the research, scientists discovered that dense vegetation and extremely hot fire together preserved the soil, preventing it from heating up.
The biggest factors in the extent of damage done to the soil are the rate at which the fire spreads and the direction the heat travels, researchers found.
Additionally, researchers noticed that the moisture content also partially protected the soil.
Scientists monitored the fire and how it performed in certain areas. They found that the fire burned at its highest intensity in areas with vegetation. Despite the high fiery conditions, the soil temperatures on the topsoil layer remained cool while the fire was lit. The new research could be beneficial in planning.
Professionals in wildlife entities could use the information to create controlled, isolated burns to reduce the amount of dry vegetation in certain areas. Using these small controlled burns could help forest managers be more effective in their efforts to restore the ecosystem in high-risk spots.
The report was published in the Geophysical Research Letters. The landmark study was the first of its kind to use geophysical instruments testing methods in this manner to measure the fiery conditions and the soil temperature in order to explore how it affects the soil quality.