Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile
Martínez S., Contreras C., Acevedo S., Bonilla C.A. (2022)

Unveiling soil temperature reached during a wildfire event using ex-post chemical and hydraulic soil analysis

Revista : Science of the Total Environment
Volumen : 822
Páginas : 153654
Tipo de publicación : ISI Ir a publicación


Wildfires affect different physical, chemical, and hydraulic soil properties, and the magnitude of their effects varies de- pending on intrinsic soil properties and wildfire characteristics. As a result of climate change, the frequency and inten- sity of wildfires have increased, and understanding their impact and predicting the temperature to which soils were exposed in previous events is becoming increasingly critical. Hence, the objectives of this study were to develop a soil-heating laboratory procedure to (a) identify changes in soil properties at different temperatures and (b) to infer the temperature ranges to which heated soils have been exposed. Saturated (Ks) and unsaturated (Ku) hydraulic con- ductivity, pH, electrical conductivity (EC), wet aggregate stability (WAS), soil water repellency index (RIm), and soil organic matter content (SOM) were measured in six laboratory heated (LH) soils at 300, 500, 700, and 900 °C for 2 h. Bulk density (BD) and soil texture were measured in unheated (UH) and wildfire-unheated (WH) samples. UH samples were used as baselines to quantify changes in soil properties, and WH and LH samples were compared to de- termine the temperatures to which WH soils were exposed. The results show that in the studied temperature range, WAS exhibited a U-shaped trend, opposite to that of pH and EC. Ks and Ku (negative tension of ?3 cm) tend to increase with temperature, reaching a maximum of 1.27·10–4 and 5.62·10–5 (m/s) at 900 °C, respectively. RIm was highly de- pendent on texture; loam soils had an average minimum and maximum of 1.84 and 2.73, at 900 and 300 °C, respec- tively, while sandy loam soils had an average minimum and maximum of 1.29 and 2.08 at 300 and 900 °C, respectively. Finally, the parameters that provided laboratory variation and a temperature range consistent with the results observed in naturally heated soils were WAS, RIm, pH, and EC.