International Journal of Wildland Fire International Journal of Wildland Fire Society
Journal of the International Association of Wildland Fire
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Effect of two-way coupling on the calculation of forest fire spread: model development

A. M. G. Lopes A B , L. M. Ribeiro A , D. X. Viegas A and J. R. Raposo A
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A ADAI (Associação para o Desenvolvimento da Aerodinâmica Indistrial), DEM (Department of Mechanical Engineering), University of Coimbra, PT-3030 Coimbra, Portugal.

B Corresponding author. Email: antonio.gameiro@dem.uc.pt

International Journal of Wildland Fire 26(9) 829-843 https://doi.org/10.1071/WF16045
Submitted: 19 March 2016  Accepted: 31 May 2017   Published: 17 August 2017

Abstract

The present work addresses the problem of how wind should be taken into account in fire spread simulations. The study was based on the software system FireStation, which incorporates a surface fire spread model and a solver for the fluid flow (Navier–Stokes) equations. The standard procedure takes the wind field computed from a single simulation in the absence of fire, but this may not be the best option, especially for large fires. The two-way coupling method, however, considers the buoyancy effects caused by the fire heat release. Fire rate of spread is computed with the semi-empirical Rothermel model, which takes as input local terrain slope, fuels properties and wind speed and direction. Wind field is obtained by solving the mass, momentum and energy equations. Effects of turbulence on the mean flow field are taken into account with the k – ϵ turbulence model. The calculation procedure consists of an interchange between the fire spread model and the wind model through a dynamic interaction. The present work describes the first part of this research, presenting the underlying models and a qualitative sensitivity analysis. It is shown that the update frequency for the dynamic interaction markedly influences the total calculation time. The best strategy for updating the wind field during the fire progression is presented. The dependence of results on mesh size is also described.

Additional keywords: fire spread simulation, fire–wind interaction, surface fire, wind simulation.


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