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Dr Jon Yearsley, University College Dublin

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19 March 2012, 2pm
at The James Hutton Institute, Aberdeen
for scientists, students and other interested parties
Photograph showing peat harvesting

Dr Jon Yearsley of University College Dublin will deliver this seminar at our Aberdeen site on the topic 'Using epidemic models to describe smouldering peatland fire'.

Smouldering combustion is a relatively poorly understood process. Ecologically this type of combustion can occur in peatlands causing the release of greenhouse gases and the loss of carbon stored in the peat. Although there is little modelling of smouldering fires, recent experimental data are characterising the behaviour of smouldering peat fire across a range of environmental conditions (for example, moisture and O2 availability).

We present the development of a simple, cellular automaton model that is based upon spatial modelling of infectious diseases. We use the model to assimilate the experimental data on smouldering peat fires. The results can be used to characterise the large scale behaviour of a smouldering fire. We present an initial application of the model to the prevalence of smouldering wildfires during the past 350 million years of Earth history.

Results show a threshold concentration of oxygen (18-19%) below which fire prevalence is extremely low, which points to a period of Earth history when fire activity was likely to have been exceedingly uncommon.

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The James Hutton Research Institute is the result of the merger in April 2011 of MLURI and SCRI. This merger formed a new powerhouse for research into food, land use, and climate change.