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Article << Previous     |     Next >>   Contents Vol 23(1)

Dead fuel moisture research: 1991–2012

Stuart Matthews

A CSIRO Ecosystem Sciences and CSIRO Climate Adaptation Flagship, GPO Box 664, Acton, ACT 2601, Australia.
B Bushfire CRC, 340 Albert Street, East Melbourne, Vic. 3002, Australia.
C University of Sydney, Faculty of Agriculture and Environment, 1 Central Avenue, Eveleigh, NSW 2015, Australia. Email: stuart.matthews@csiro.au

International Journal of Wildland Fire 23(1) 78-92 http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/WF13005
Submitted: 10 January 2013  Accepted: 15 June 2013   Published: 10 September 2013


 
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Abstract

The moisture content of dead fuels is an important determinant of many aspects of bushfire behaviour. Understanding the relationships of fuel moisture with weather, fuels and topography is useful for fire managers and models of fuel moisture are an integral component of fire behaviour models. This paper reviews research into dead fuel moisture for the period 1991–2012. The first half of the paper deals with experimental investigation of fuel moisture including an overview of the physical processes that affect fuel moisture, laboratory measurements used to quantify these processes, and field measurements of the dependence of fuel moisture on weather, vegetation structure and topography. The second set of topics examine models of fuel moisture including empirical models derived from field measurements, process-based models of vapour exchange and fuel energy and water balance, and experimental testing of both types of models. Remaining knowledge gaps and future research problems are also discussed. Opportunities for exciting research in the future exist for basic fuel moisture processes, developing new methods for applying models to fire behaviour prediction, and linking fuel moisture and weather forecast models.

Additional keywords: forest litter, fuel moisture content, model, review.


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