GLOBAL – New simulations have provided clues on reducing peat fires, which hide underground and are notoriously bad for human health and the environment.
Imperial College London researchers have simulated for the first time how soil moisture content affects the ignition and spread of smouldering peat fires, which can release up to 100 times more carbon into the atmosphere than flaming fires. They also simulated how several smaller peat fires can merge into one large blaze, and tracked the interplay between smouldering and flaming fires.
The findings could help scientists, authorities, and landowners to manage the clearing of vegetation in peatlands in the safest way possible. The study is published in Proceedings of the Combustion Institute.
First author Dwi Purnomo of Imperial’s Department of Mechanical Engineering said: “Peat fires are a devastating yet chronically under-researched phenomenon that spurt millions of tonnes of carbon into the atmosphere every year. If we can use scientific evidence to help people manage them more effectively, we can perhaps dampen their impact on people and the environment.”