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Open Access Article << Previous     |     Next >>   Contents Vol 20(4)

Defining fire spread event days for fire-growth modelling

Justin Podur A C and B. Mike Wotton B

A Faculty of Environmental Studies, York University, 109 Health, Nursing and Environmental Studies (HNES) Building, 4700 Keele Street, Toronto, ON, M3J 1P3, Canada.
B Natural Resources Canada, Canadian Forest Service, Faculty of Forestry, University of Toronto, 33 Willcocks Street, Toronto, ON, M5S 3B3, Canada.
C Corresponding author. Email: jpodur@yorku.ca

International Journal of Wildland Fire 20(4) 497-507 http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/WF09001
Submitted: 7 January 2009  Accepted: 18 October 2010   Published: 20 June 2011


 
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Abstract

Forest fire managers have long understood that most of a fire’s growth typically occurs on a small number of days when burning conditions are conducive for spread. Fires either grow very slowly at low intensity or burn considerable area in a ‘run’. A simple classification of days into ‘spread events’ and ‘non-spread events’ can greatly improve estimates of area burned. Studies with fire-growth models suggest that the Canadian Forest Fire Behaviour Prediction System (FBP System) seems to predict growth well during high-intensity ‘spread events’ but tends to overpredict rate of spread for non-spread events. In this study, we provide an objective weather-based definition of ‘spread events’, making it possible to assess the probability of having a spread event on any particular day. We demonstrate the benefit of incorporating this ‘spread event’ day concept into a fire-growth model based on the Canadian FBP System.



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