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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 II. An exploratory study of the effect of simulated winds on fire growth simulations

Jason M. Forthofer A B , Bret W. Butler A , Charles W. McHugh A , Mark A. Finney A , Larry S. Bradshaw A , Richard D. Stratton A , Kyle S. Shannon A and Natalie S. Wagenbrenner A

A USDA 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) 982-994 http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/WF12090
Submitted: 6 June 2012  Accepted: 9 May 2014   Published: 18 August 2014


 
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Abstract

The effect of fine-resolution wind simulations on fire growth simulations is explored. The wind models are (1) a wind field consisting of constant speed and direction applied everywhere over the area of interest; (2) a tool based on the solution of the conservation of mass only (termed mass-conserving model) and (3) a tool based on a solution of conservation of mass and momentum (termed momentum-conserving model). Fire simulations use the FARSITE fire simulation system to simulate fire growth for one hypothetical fire and two actual wildfires. The momentum-conserving model produced fire perimeters that most closely matched the observed fire spread, followed by the mass-conserving model and then the uniform winds. The results suggest that momentum-conserving and mass-conserving models can reduce the sensitivity of fire growth simulations to input wind direction, which is advantageous to fire growth modellers. The mass-conserving and momentum-conserving wind models may be useful for operational use as decision support tools in wildland fire management, prescribed fire planning, smoke dispersion modelling, and firefighter and public safety.

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


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