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Article << Previous     |     Next >>   Contents Vol 20(5)

The effects of wind on the flame characteristics of individual leaves

Wesley J. Cole A , McKaye H. Dennis A , Thomas H. Fletcher A C and David R. Weise B

A Chemical Engineering Department, Brigham Young University, Provo, UT 84602, USA.
B USDA Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Research Station, 4955 Canyon Crest Drive, Riverside, Riverside, CA 92507, USA.
C Corresponding author. Email: tom_fletcher@byu.edu

International Journal of Wildland Fire 20(5) 657-667 http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/WF10019
Submitted: 9 February 2010  Accepted: 29 November 2010   Published: 8 August 2011

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Individual cuttings from five shrub species were burned over a flat-flame burner under wind conditions of 0.75–2.80 m s–1. Both live and dead cuttings were used. These included single leaves from broadleaf species as well as 3 to 5 cm-long branches from coniferous and small broadleaf species. Flame angles and flame lengths were determined by semi-automated measurements of video images. Additional data, such as times and temperatures corresponding to ignition, maximum flame height and burnout were determined using video and infrared images. Flame angles correlated linearly with wind velocity. They also correlated with the Froude number when either the flame length or flame height was used. Flame angles in individual leaf experiments were generally 50 to 70% less than flame angles derived from Froude number correlations reported in the literature for fuel-bed experiments. Although flame angles increased with fuel mass and moisture content, they were unaffected by fuel species. Flame lengths and flame heights decreased with moisture contents and wind speed but increased with mass. In most cases, samples burned with wind conditions ignited less quickly and at lower temperatures than samples burned without wind. Most samples contained moisture at the time of ignition. Results of this small-scale approach (e.g. using individual cuttings) apply to ignition of shrubs and to flame propagation in shrubs of low bulk density. This research is one of the few attempts to characterise single-leaf and small-branch combustion behaviour in wind and is crucial to the continued development of a semi-empirical shrub combustion model.

Additional keywords: flame angle, flame geometry, live fuels, wildfire.


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