Fire in Hell's Kitchen: A Look at Fire History in Northern Wisconsin

LeValley, John J.
Lake sediments containing charcoal fragments are useful tools in reconstructing fire histories. Sediment cores, were obtained from Hell's Kitchen Lake (3 ha), in north-central Wisconsin (46° 11.4 N; 89° 42.1W), spanning approximately the last 5000 years. This study was undertaken to investigate fire history in Northern Wisconsin and determine if paleo fire histories from Hell's Kitchen Lake correspond with climatic and ecological shifts. To do this, the sediment cores were sampled continuously at 1 cm intervals. 1 cm 3 sections were then removed from each interval and every piece of charcoal present within them was counted to determine charcoal abundance. Charcoal abundance data was then plotted as a function of time and compared with macrofossil and pollen data (indicators of forest composition and climate) collected from a previous study. Charcoal abundance is lower between 3000-5000 years ago and is more abundant over the last 2000 years with a slight decrease appearing in the last century. Fire frequency increases during the medieval climate anomaly correspond to severe droughts that are well documented during that period.
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