At DC values greater
than 500 persistent smouldering is likely to occur. However, smouldering of the duff layer and pleurocarpous mosses seems to have been initiated at lower levels of the DMC (33) than those recorded by Lawson et al. (1997) for similar fuels (80–90 for white spruce duff, 76–81 for pleurocarpous mosses). Further research should determine such flammability thresholds for fire-prone vegetation types in the UK. The UK is currently poorly placed to either assess the overall impact of peatland fires on national carbon emissions or to forecast the conditions under which such fires occur. As Davies et al. (2008) previously pointed out, there is an urgent need to develop a co-ordinated approach to collecting data on the incidence and impact see more of peatland wildfires. Existing tools, such as the FWI system, VEGFR inhibitor should also be modified to forecast conditions when
peat fires can occur. To achieve this further research is needed on the relationship between peat fuel moisture and the moisture codes of the FWI system when fire events are more likely to occur. Wildfires that ignite peat deposits represent a significant potential feedback to climate change and improved tools and tactics to forecast, prevent and fight them are urgently needed. Study of the carbon release associated with smouldering combustion during the Rothiemurchus wildfire has added to a growing body of evidence (Table 5) showing
that even small events of this nature can release significant quantities of carbon. Our results also provide circumstantial evidence that afforestation of peatland soils, and associated site preparation, may contribute to an increased risk of peat fires. This requires further study and should be accounted for in the planning of future forestry operations particularly in the light of climate change forecasts that suggests conditions suitable for severe summer wildfires may become more frequent (Jenkins L-gulonolactone oxidase et al., 2010). Increases in the frequency and severity of peatland wildfires have been shown to be a potentially significant positive feedback on climate change in other regions (Field et al., 2007, Turetsky et al., 2011a and Turetsky et al., 2011b) and it would be sensible for peatland managers in the UK to also be concerned. Attempts have recently been made to estimate the relative contribution of different types of burn to global C emissions from wildland fire (van der Werf et al., 2010). This research was based on MODIS active fire and burned area maps but it is not clear if such remotely sensed data is able to catch the kind of smouldering wildfire that accounted for most of the ground fuels consumed in our study.