Post of the month 05/2020: <br/>Team on Fire @ Swansea

Our Team on Fire is a multidisciplinary research team at Swansea University (Wales, UK) with a key focus on assessing and predicting the environmental impacts of wildfires and management burns around the world.

The team currently consists of 24 members including academics, post-doctoral researchers, technicians and postgraduate researchers. Together with a wide range of international collaborators and research sites in all fire-affected continents we examine, model and aim to predict the impacts on fire on soils, vegetation, water resources, air quality, and the carbon cycle. We also study public perceptions of fire.

One of our specific goals is to help catchment managers with predictive tools to anticipate and mitigate water contamination risk after fire. Ash from wildfire can be rich in pollutants and is easily transported into rivers and reservoirs. The following video shows an example of our work carried after the unprecedented 2019/20 Australian bushfires with WaterNSW, Sydney’s main water supplier.

Team on Fire – Swansea University’s research on mitigating fire impacts on water quality.

Another focus is trends in fire occurrence and their impacts on vegetation and the carbon cycle . For example, in a recent study we demonstrated that, globally, the production of pyrogenic carbon (PyC, e.g. charcoal), which blackens landscapes after fires, can actually help to lock up (sequester) carbon over fire and vegetation regrowth cycles. In the map below you can see that for each amount of carbon emitted to the atmosphere (which is normally taken up again when the vegetation regrows), a substantial proportion of PyC is produced. Because PyC is quite resistant to breakdown and can accumulate in soils and sediments, it can help sequester carbon in the long term. Natural fire-regrowth cycles during which full vegetation recovery occurs, could therefore be a mechanism of long-term carbon sequestration.  

Annual average PyC production rates for the period 1997–2016, Jones et al. (2019).
Some Team on Fire members celebrating their 2020 Research and Innovation Award.

Team members

Dr Helen Balshaw
Dr Rob Bryant
Dr Carlos Cabo
Prof. Stefan Doerr
Dr Peter Douglas
Dr Cynthia Froyd
Dr Keith Halfacree
Ashleigh Harper
Dr Rocio Hernadez-Clemente
Craig Hope
Dr Roger Lew
Neil Matthews
Dr Symon Mezbahuddin
Dr Jonay Neris
Dr Tadas Nikonovas
Prof. Peter North
Dr Jose (Pipo) Roces
Dr Jackie Rosette
Carmen Sanchez
Maria Santiso
Dr Cristina Santin
Dr Allan Spessa
Dr Emilia Urbanek
Rosie Watts

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