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International Journal of Wildland Fire
  Published on behalf of the International Association of Wildland Fire
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 Just Accepted

This article has been peer reviewed and accepted for publication. It is in production and has not been edited, so may differ from the final published form.

A comparison of three approaches for simulating fine-scale winds in support of wildland fire management: Part I –model formulation and comparison against measurements

Forthofer Jason, Bret Butler, Natalie Wagenbrenner


For this study three types of wind models have been defined for simulating surface wind flow in support of wildland fire management. They are: 1) uniform wind field (typically acquired from coarse resolution weather service forecast models); 2) a newly developed mass-conserving model; and 3) a newly developed mass and momentum-conserving model (referred to as the momentum-conserving model). The technical foundation for the second and third modeling approaches are described, simulated surface wind fields are compared to field measurements, and the sensitivity of the second and third model types to mesh resolution and aspect ratio (second type only) are discussed. Both of the newly developed models assume neutral stability and are designed to be run by casual users on standard personal computers. Simulation times vary from a few seconds for the mass-conserving model to about one hour for the momentum-conserving model using consumer grade computers. Applications for this technology include use in real-time fire spread prediction models to support fire management activities, mapping local wind fields to identify areas of concern for firefighter safety, and exploring best-case weather scenarios to achieve prescribed fire objectives. Both models performed best on the upwind side and top of terrain features and had reduced accuracy on the lee side. The momentum-conserving model performed better than the mass-conserving model on the lee side.

WF12089  Accepted 09 May 2014
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