CSIRO Publishing blank image blank image blank image blank imageBooksblank image blank image blank image blank imageJournalsblank image blank image blank image blank imageAbout Usblank image blank image blank image blank imageShopping Cartblank image blank image blank image You are here: Journals > International Journal of Wildland Fire   
International Journal of Wildland Fire
  Journal of the International Association of Wildland Fire
blank image Search
blank image blank image
blank image
  Advanced Search

Journal Home
About the Journal
Editorial Structure
Online Early
Current Issue
Just Accepted
All Issues
Special Issues
Research Fronts
Sample Issue
20-Year Author Index
For Authors
General Information
Submit Article
Author Instructions
Open Access
Awards and Prizes
For Referees
Referee Guidelines
Review an Article
For Subscribers
Subscription Prices
Customer Service
Print Publication Dates
Library Recommendation

blue arrow e-Alerts
blank image
Subscribe to our Email Alert or RSS feeds for the latest journal papers.

red arrow Connect with CP
blank image
facebook twitter logo LinkedIn

red arrow Connect with IAWF
blank image
facebook twitter LinkedIn


Article << Previous     |     Next >>   Contents Vol 23(7)

A comparison of three approaches for simulating fine-scale surface winds in support of wildland fire management. Part I. Model formulation and comparison against measurements

Jason M. Forthofer A B, Bret W. Butler A and Natalie S. Wagenbrenner A

A US Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Missoula Fire Sciences Laboratory, 5775 W Highway 10, Missoula, MT 59808-9361, USA.
B Corresponding author. Email: jaforthofer@fs.fed.us

International Journal of Wildland Fire 23(7) 969-981 http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/WF12089
Submitted: 6 June 2012  Accepted: 9 May 2014   Published: 18 August 2014

PDF (766 KB) $25
 Export Citation

For this study three types of wind models have been defined for simulating surface wind flow in support of wildland fire management: (1) a uniform wind field (typically acquired from coarse-resolution (~4 km) weather service forecast models); (2) a newly developed mass-conserving model and (3) a newly developed mass and momentum-conserving model (referred to as the momentum-conserving model). The technical foundation for the two new modelling approaches is described, simulated surface wind fields are compared to field measurements, and the sensitivity of the new model types to mesh resolution and aspect ratio (second type only) is discussed. Both of the newly developed models assume neutral stability and are designed to be run by casual users on standard personal computers. Simulation times vary from a few seconds for the mass-conserving model to ~1 h for the momentum-conserving model using consumer-grade computers. Applications for this technology include use in real-time fire spread prediction models to support fire management activities, mapping local wind fields to identify areas of concern for firefighter safety and exploring best-case weather scenarios to achieve prescribed fire objectives. Both models performed best on the upwind side and top of terrain features and had reduced accuracy on the lee side. The momentum-conserving model performed better than the mass-conserving model on the lee side.

Additional keywords: fire growth modelling, wildland fire decision support, wind modelling.


Ager A, Finney M, McMahan A, Cathcart J (2010) Measuring the effect of fuel treatments on forest carbon using landscape risk analysis. Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences 10, 2515–2526.
CrossRef |

Albini FA (1982) Response of free-burning fires to nonsteady wind. Combustion Science and Technology 29, 225–241.
CrossRef |

Alm LK, Nygaard TA (1995) Flow over complex terrain estimated by a general purpose Navier–Stokes solver. Modelling, Identification and Control 16, 169–176.
CrossRef |

Apsley DD, Castro IP (1997) Flow and dispersion over hills: comparison between numerical predictions and experimental data. Journal of Wind Engineering and Industrial Aerodynamics 67–68, 375–386.
CrossRef |

Atkinson BW (1995) Introduction to the fluid mechanics of meso-scale flow fields. In ‘Diffusion and Transport of Pollutants in Atmospheric Mesoscale Flow Fields’. (Ed. A Gyr, F-S Rys) Vol. 1, pp. 1–20. (Kluwer: Dordrecht, the Netherlands)

Barnard JC (1991) An evaluation of three models designed for siting wind turbines in areas of complex terrain. Solar Energy 46, 283–294.
CrossRef |

Barrett R, Berry M, Chan TF, Demmel J, Donato J, Dongarra J, Eijkhout V, Pozo R, Romine C (1994) ‘Templates for the Solution of Linear Systems: Building Blocks for Iterative Methods’, 2nd edn. (SIAM: Philadelphia, PA)

Beaucage P, Brower MC, Tensen J (2014) Evaluation of four numerical wind flow models for wind resource mapping. Wind Energy 17, 197–208.
CrossRef |

Boussinesq J (1877) Théorie de l’Écoulement Tourbillant. Memoires présentés par divers savant à l’Académie des Sciences de l’Institut de France 23, 46–50.

Bradshaw L (2004) Wind measurements over Waterworks Hill, Missoula, MT. USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Missoula Fire Science Laboratory, Internal Report. (Missoula, MT)

Brown M, Gowardhan A, Nelson M, Williams M, Pardyjak E (2009) Evaluation of the QUIC wind and dispersion models using the Joint Urban 2003 Field Experiment. In ‘Proceedings of the Eighth Symposium on the Urban Environment’, 10–15 January 2009, Phoenix AZ. (Eds PM Klein, AJ Brazel, JK Lundquist, J Davis) paper 19.4. (American Meteorological Society) Available at https://ams.confex.com/ams/pdfpapers/146140.pdf [Verified 5 August 2014]

Butler BW, Bartlette RA, Bradshaw LS, Cohen JD, Andrews PL, Putnam T, Mangan RJ (1998) Fire behavior associated with the 1994 south canyon fire on storm king mountain, Colorado. USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Research Paper RMRS-RP-9. (Fort Collins, CO)

Byram GM, Nelson RM (1974) Bouyancy characteristics of a fire heat source. Fire Technology 10, 68–79.
CrossRef |

Castro FA, Palma JMLM, Silva Lopes A (2003) Simulation of the Askervein Flow. Part1: Reynolds averaged Navier–Stokes equations (k-epsilon turbulence model). Boundary-Layer Meteorology 107, 501–530.
CrossRef |

Catchpole WR, Catchpole EA, Butler BW, Rothermel RC, Morris GA, Latham DJ (1998) Rate of spread of free-burning fires in woody fuels in a wind tunnel. Combustion Science and Technology 131, 1–37.
CrossRef | CAS |

Chan ST, Sugiyama G (1997) User’s manual for MC_WIND: A new mass-consistent wind model for ARAC-3. Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, UCRL-MA-129067. (Oak Ridge, TN)

Chow FK, Street RL (2009) Evaluation of turbulence closure models for large-eddy simulation over complex terrain: flow over Askervein Hill. Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology 48, 1050–1065.
CrossRef |

Clark TL, Coen J, Latham D (2004) Description of a coupled atmosphere-fire model. International Journal of Wildland Fire 13, 49–63.
CrossRef |

Coen JL, Cameron M, Michalakes J, Patton EG, Riggan PJ, Yedinak KM (2013) WRF-Fire: coupled weather–wildland fire modeling with the weather research and forecasting model. Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology 52, 16–38.
CrossRef |

Davis CG, Bunker SS, Mutschlecner JP (1984) Atmospheric transport models for complex terrain. Journal of Climate and Applied Meteorology 23, 235–238.
CrossRef | CAS |

Finardi S, Brusasca G, Morselli MG, Trombetti F, Tampieri F (1993) Boundary-layer flow over analytical two-dimensional hills: a systematic comparison of different models with wind tunnel data. Boundary-Layer Meteorology 63, 259–291.
CrossRef |

Finney MA (1998) FARSITE: Fire area simulator-model development and evaluation. USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Research Paper RMRS-RP-4. (Ogden, UT)

Finney M, Grenfell IC, McHugh C, Seli R, Trethewey DL, Stratton RD, Brittain S (2011) A method for ensemble wildland fire simulation. Environmental Modeling and Assessment 16, 153–167.
CrossRef |

Forthofer JM (2007) Modeling wind in complex terrain for use in fire spread prediction. MSc thesis, Colorado State University, Fort Collins.

Forthofer JM, Butler BW, McHugh C, Finney MA, Bradshaw LS, Stratton R, Shannon KS, Wagenbrenner NS (2014) A comparison of three approaches for simulating fine-scale surface winds in support of wildland fire management. Part II. An exploratory study of the impact of simulated winds on fire growth simulations. International Journal of Wildland Fire
CrossRef |

Geai P (1987) Methode d’interpolation et de reconstitution tridimensionelle d’un champ de vent: le code d’analyse objective MINERVE. Report DER/HE/34–87.03E.d.F. (Chatou, France)

Homicz GF (2002) Three-dimensional wind field modeling: a review. Sandia National Laboratories, SAND Report 2597. (Albuquerque, NM)

Jackson PS, Hunt JCR (1975) Turbulent wind flow over a low hill. Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society 101, 929–955.
CrossRef |

Kim S-E, Boysan F (1999) Application of CFD to environmental flows. Journal of Wind Engineering and Industrial Aerodynamics 81, 145–158.
CrossRef |

Kim HG, Patel VC, Lee CM (2000) Numerical simulation of wind flow over hilly terrain. Journal of Wind Engineering and Industrial Aerodynamics 87, 45–60.
CrossRef |

Kochanski AK, Jenkins MA, Mandel J, Beezley JD, Krueger SK (2013) Real time simulation of 2007 Santa Ana fires. Forest Ecology and Management 294, 136–149.
CrossRef |

Linn RR, Reisner J, Colman JJ, Winterkamp J (2002) Studying wildfire behavior using FIRETEC. International Journal of Wildland Fire 11, 233–246.
CrossRef |

Lopes AMG (2003) WindStation – a software for the simulation of atmospheric flows over complex topography. Environmental Modelling & Software 18, 81–96.
CrossRef |

Lundquist JD, Minder JR, Neiman PJ, Sukovich E (2010) Relationships between barrier jet heights, orographic precipitation gradients, and streamflow in the Northern Sierra Nevada. Journal of Hydrometeorology 11, 1141–1156.
CrossRef |

Mason PJ, King JC (1985) Measurements and predictions of flow and turbulence over an isolated hill of moderate slope. Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society 111, 617–640.
CrossRef |

Maurizi A, Palma JMLM, Castro FA (1998) Numerical simulation of the atmospheric flow in a mountainous region of the north of Portugal. Journal of Wind Engineering and Industrial Aerodynamics 74–76, 219–228.
CrossRef |

Mell WE, Jenkins MJ, Gould JS, Cheney NP (2007) A physics-based approach to modelling grassland fires. International Journal of Wildland Fire 16, 1–22.
CrossRef |

Mellor GL, Yamada T (1982) Development of a turbulence closure model for geophysical fluid problems. Reviews of Geophysics 20, 851–875.
CrossRef |

Montavon C (1998) Validation of a non-hydrostatic numerical model to simulate stratified wind fields over complex topography. Journal of Wind Engineering and Industrial Aerodynamics 74–75, 1762–1782.

Montero G, Montenegro R, Escobar JM (1998) A 3-D diagnostic model for wind field adjustment. Journal of Wind Engineering and Industrial Aerodynamics 74–76, 249–261.
CrossRef |

Mortensen NG, Landberg L, Troen I, Petersen EL (1993) Wind atlas analysis and application program (WAsP). Vol. 2: User’s guide. Riso National Laboratory. (Roskilde, Denmark)

Moussiopoulos N, Flassak T (1986) Two vectorized algorithms for the effective calculations of mass-consistent flow fields. Journal of Applied Meteorology 25, 847–857.
CrossRef |

Parkinson HG (1987) Measurements of wind flow over models of a hill. PhD thesis, University of Oxford, Trinity.

Petersen EL, Mortensen NG, Landberg L, Hojstrup J, Frank HP (1997) Wind power meteorology. Riso National Laboratory, Wind Energy Department Riso-I-1206(EN). (Roskilde, Denmark)

Raithby GD, Stubley GD, Taylor PA (1987) The Askervein Hill Project: a finite control volume prediction of three-dimensional flows over the hill. Boundary-Layer Meteorology 39, 247–267.
CrossRef |

Richards P, Hoxey R (1993) Appropriate boundary conditions for computational wind engineering models using the k-epsilon turbulence model. Journal of Wind Engineering and Industrial Aerodynamics 46–47, 145–153.
CrossRef |

Rodi W (1997) Comparison of LES and RANS calculations of the flow around bluff bodies. Journal of Wind Engineering and Industrial Aerodynamics 69–71, 55–75.
CrossRef |

Ross DG, Smith IN, Manins PC, Fox DG (1988) Diagnostic wind field modeling for complex terrain: model development and testing. Journal of Applied Meteorology 27, 785–796.
CrossRef |

Rothermel RC (1972) A mathematical model for predicting fire spread in wildland fuels. USDA Forest Service, Intermountain Research Station, Research Paper INT-115. (Ogden, UT)

Rothermel RC (1993) Mann Gulch fire: a race that couldn’t be won. USDA Forest Service, Intermountain Research Station, General Technical Report INT-299. (Ogden, UT)

Sasaki Y (1958) An objective analysis based on the variational method. Journal of the Meteorological Society of Japan 36, 77–88.

Sasaki Y (1970a) Numerical variational analysis formulated under the constraints determined by longwave equations and low-pass filter. Monthly Weather Review 98, 884–898.
CrossRef |

Sasaki Y (1970b) Some basic formalisms in numerical variational analysis. Monthly Weather Review 98, 875–883.
CrossRef |

Scire JS, Robe FR, Fernau ME, Yamartino RJ (2000) ‘A User’s Guide for the CALMET Meteorological Model.’ (Earth Tech, Inc.: Concord, MA)

Sherman CA (1978) A mass-consistent model for wind fields over complex terrain. Journal of Applied Meteorology 17, 312–319.
CrossRef |

Stangroom P (2004) CFD modeling of wind flow over terrain. PhD thesis, The University of Nottingham.

Stratton RD (2006) Guidance on spatial wildland fire analysis: models, tools, and techniques. USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, General Technical Report RMRS-GTR 183. (Fort Collins, CO)

Sun R, Krueger SK, Jenkins MA, Zulauf MA, Charney JJ (2009) The importance of fire–atmosphere coupling and boundary-layer turbulence to wildfire spread. International Journal of Wildland Fire 18, 50–60.
CrossRef |

Taylor PA, Teunissen HW (1983) Askervein ’82: report on the September/October 1982 Experiment to study boundary layer flow over Askervein, South Uist. Atmospheric Environment Service, MSRB-83-8. (Downsview, ON)

Taylor PA, Teunissen HW (1985) The Askervein Hill Project: report on the September/October 1983 Main Field Experiment. Atmospheric Environment Service, MSRB-84-6. (Downsview, ON)

Taylor PA, Teunissen HW (1987) The Askervein Hill Project: overview and background data. Boundary-Layer Meteorology 39, 15–39.
CrossRef |

Thompson EG (2005) ‘Introduction to the Finite Element Method: Theory, Programming, and Applications.’ (Wiley: Hoboken, NJ)

Thompson JF, Soni BK, Weatherill NP (1999) ‘Handbook of Grid Generations.’ (CRC Press: Boca Raton, FL)

Turner DB (1964) A diffusion model for an urban area. Journal of Applied Meteorology 3, 83–91.
CrossRef |

Uchida T, Ohya Y (1999) Numerical simulation of atmospheric flow over complex terrain. Journal of Wind Engineering and Industrial Aerodynamics 81, 283–293.
CrossRef |

Undheim O, Andersson HI, Berge E (2006) Non-linear, microscale modelling of the flow over Askervein Hill. Boundary-Layer Meteorology 120, 477–495.
CrossRef |

USDA Forest Service and USDI Bureau of Land Management (2002) Price Canyon Fire Entrapment Investigation Report. (Missoula, MT) Available at https://www.iaff.org/hs/LODD_Manual/LODD%20Reports/South%20Canyon,%20CO%20-%2014%20LODDs.pdf [Verified 26 June 2014]

USGS (2006) Fire data ordering system. Available at http://firedata.cr.usgs.gov [Verified 26 June 2014].

Vandoormaal JP, Raithby GD (1984) Enhancements of the SIMPLE method for predicting incompressible fluid flows. Numerical Heat Transfer Part A 7, 147–163.

Walmsley JL, Taylor PA (1996) Boundary-layer flow over topography: impacts of the Askervein Study. Boundary-Layer Meteorology 78, 291–320.
CrossRef |

Walmsley JL, Taylor PA, Keith T (1986) A simple model of neutrally stratified boundary layer flow over complex terrain with surface roughness modulations (MS3DJH/3R). Boundary-Layer Meteorology 36, 157–186.
CrossRef |

Walmsley JL, Troen IB, Demetrius P, Lalas DP, Mason PJ (1990) Surface-layer flow in complex terrain: comparison of models and full-scale observations. Boundary-Layer Meteorology 52, 259–281.
CrossRef |

Wieringa J (1993) Representative roughness parameters for homogenous terrain. Boundary-Layer Meteorology 63, 323–363.
CrossRef |

Yakhot V, Orszag SA (1986) Renormalization group analysis of turbulence. I. Basic theory. Journal of Scientific Computations 1, 3–51.
CrossRef |

Subscriber Login

Legal & Privacy | Contact Us | Help


© CSIRO 1996-2016