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

Modelling the rate of fire spread and uncertainty associated with the onset and propagation of crown fires in conifer forest stands

Miguel G. Cruz A C and Martin E. Alexander B
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A CSIRO, GPO Box 1700, Canberra, ACT 2601, Australia.

B Wild Rose Fire Behaviour, 180 – 50434 Range Road 232, Leduc County, AB T4X 1 L0, Canada.

C Corresponding author. Email: miguel.cruz@csiro.au

International Journal of Wildland Fire 26(5) 413-426 https://doi.org/10.1071/WF16218
Submitted: 11 December 2016  Accepted: 13 March 2017   Published: 9 May 2017

Abstract

Crown fires are complex, unstable phenomena dependent on feedback mechanisms between the combustion products of distinct fuel layers. We describe non-linear fire behaviour associated with crowning and the uncertainty they cause in fire behaviour predictions by running a semiphysical modelling system within a simple Monte Carlo simulation framework. The method was able to capture the dynamics of passive and active crown fire spread regimes, providing estimates of average rate of spread and the extent of crown fire activity. System outputs were evaluated against data collected from a wildfire that occurred in a radiata pine plantation in south-eastern Australia. The Monte Carlo method reduced prediction errors relative to the more commonly used deterministic modelling approach, and allowed a more complete description of the level of crown fire behaviour to expect. The method also provides uncertainty measures and probabilistic outputs, extending the range of questions that can be answered by fire behaviour models.

Additional keywords: crowning, deterministic method, ensemble method, fire behaviour, Monte Carlo simulation, Pinus radiata, radiata pine.


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