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Journal Article

Effects of fire on surface carbon, energy and water vapour fluxes over campo sujo savanna in central Brazil


Lloyd,  J.
Research Group Carbon-Change Atmosphere, Dr. J. Lloyd, Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, Max Planck Society;

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Santos, A. J. B., Silva, G. T. D. A., Miranda, H. S., Miranda, A. C., & Lloyd, J. (2003). Effects of fire on surface carbon, energy and water vapour fluxes over campo sujo savanna in central Brazil. Functional Ecology, 17(6), 711-719. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2435.2003.00790.x.

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1. Tower-based eddy covariance measurements were used to quantify the effect of fire on subsequent carbon dioxide fluxes and water and surface energy balance characteristics for campo sujo savanna located near Brasilia in Central Brazil (15degrees56' S, 47degrees51' W). Campo sujo is a xeromorphic, open shrub savanna with very scattered but definitely visible shrubs and tree-like shrub elements. We studied two areas, one exposed to a prescribed fire late in the dry season, and a second that had not been burned for the previous 4 years.2. The fire on 22 September 1998 consumed an estimated 26 mol C m(-2). Immediately after the fire, evapotranspiration rates decreased and the savanna became a stronger net source of CO2 to the atmosphere. This was attributed to the removal of the still slightly physiologically active grass layer and higher soil CO2 efflux rates as a consequence of elevated surface soil temperatures post-burning.3. On the commencement of the first rains in early October 1998, this situation was reversed, with the burned area rapidly becoming a stronger sink for CO2 and with higher evapotranspiration rates than a nearby unburned (control) area. This difference persisted throughout the wet season (until at least June 1999) and was attributable to greater physiological activity of the regrowing vegetation in the burned area. Early in the growing season, higher soil evaporation rates may also have contributed to faster water use by the previously burned area.4. Overall, we estimate an annual gross primary productivity for the burned area of 135 mol C m(-2) year(-1), with that for the unburned area being 106 mol C m(-2) year(-1). Estimated ecosystem respiration rates were more similar on an annual basis (96 and 82 mol C m(-2) year(-1) for the burned and unburned areas, respectively), giving rise to a substantially higher net ecosystem productivity for the previously burned area (38 vs 24 mol C m(-2) year(-1)).5. Stimulation of photosynthetic activity in the rapid post-fire growth phase means that the negative effects of fire on the ecosystem carbon balance were more or less neutralized after only 12 months.