Fire Behavior

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Colorado Wildland Fire Conference

Conference webpage.

The 2024 Meeting the Moment Conference will be October 1-4, 2024 at Viewline Resort Snowmass, 100 Elbert Ln, Snowmass Village, CO 81615.

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Front range grassland fire workshop

Workshop registration, closes May 15.

In Colorado, the Front Range can present unique fuel and weather conditions for wildfires. Combined with numerous wildland/urban interface and intermix settings, these conditions can be critical in wildfire management.

Register now for the Front Range Grassland Fire Workshop to increase your knowledge and understanding of the ecology, behavior, risks, and management of grassfire conditions on the Front Range.

Hear speakers from both the Front Range and the Great Plains to discuss grassland fire.

Information Packet (agenda, speaker bios, hotel, parking)

Dickens Opera House, 302 Main St, Longmont, CO 80501

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Drought triggers and sustains overnight fires in North America

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We examined the hourly diurnal cycle of 23,557 fires and identified 1,095 overnight burning events (OBEs, each defined as a night when a fire burned through the night) in North America during 2017–2020 using geostationary satellite data and terrestrial fire records. A total of 99% of OBEs were associated with large fires (>1,000 ha) and at least one OBE was identified in 20% of these large fires. OBEs were early onset after ignition and OBE frequency was positively correlated with fire size. Although warming is weakening the climatological barrier to night-time fires6, we found that the main driver of recent OBEs in large fires was the accumulated fuel dryness and availability (that is, drought conditions), which tended to lead to consecutive OBEs in a single wildfire for several days and even weeks. Critically, we show that daytime drought indicators can predict whether an OBE will occur the following night, which could facilitate early detection and management of night-time fires. We also observed increases in fire weather conditions conducive to OBEs over recent decades, suggesting an accelerated disruption of the diurnal fire cycle.

Fire practitioners conducting a prescribed burn at White's Creek.

What goes into a burn plan? Examples and results from White’s Creek

Burn Plan Event information and registration.

Event flyer to forward to others.

Join us in the field to discuss prescription burn planning, treatments, monitoring, and results with Duncan Leao, Steve Howell, and Ali Paulson, USFS. This is an informal discussion open to all.

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Variability in weather and site properties affect fuel and fire behavior following fuel treatments in semiarid sagebrush-steppe

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Fuel-treatments targeting shrubs and fire-prone exotic annual grasses (EAGs) are increasingly used to mitigate increased wildfire risks in arid and semiarid environments, and understanding their response to natural factors is needed for effective landscape management. Using field-data collected over four years from fuel-break treatments in semiarid sagebrush-steppe, we asked 1) how the outcomes of EAG and sagebrush fuel treatments varied with site biophysical properties, climate, and weather, and 2) how predictions of fire behavior using the Fuel Characteristic Classification System fire model related to land-management objectives of maintaining fire behavior expected of low-load, dry-climate grasslands. Generalized linear mixed effect modeling with build-up model selection was used to determine best-fit models, and marginal effects plots to assess responses for each fuel type. EAG cover decreased as antecedent-fall precipitation increased and increased as antecedent-spring temperatures and surface soil clay contents increased. Herbicides targeting EAGs were less effective where pre-treatment EAG cover was >40 % and antecedent spring temperatures were >9.5 °C. Sagebrush cover was inversely related to soil clay content, especially where clay contents were >17 %. Predicted fire behavior exceeded management objectives under 1) average fire weather conditions when EAG or sagebrush cover was >50 % or >26 %, respectively, or 2) extreme fire weather conditions when EAG or sagebrush cover was >10 % or >8 %, respectively. Consideration of the strong effects of natural variability in site properties and antecedent weather can help in justifying, planning and implementing fuel-treatments.

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Seminars for managers from the RMRS Fire Lab

More information and join link.

In 2024, there are five Thursdays in February. To celebrate this rare event, the Fire Lab is hosting a series of five seminars that highlight new tools and research for managers. The “February Five” will occur during our regularly scheduled seminar series timeslot – Thursdays at 11am Mountain Time. Please join us on Teams. Select the titles below for connection information and to view recordings after the event.

FastFuels and QUIC-Fire: 3D fuel and fire modeling systems supporting prescribed fire
Feb 1, 2024: Russell Parsons, Research Ecologist

The Fire Weather Alert System
Feb 8, 2024: Jason Forthofer, Research Mechanical Engineer; Natalie Wagenbrenner, Research Meteorologist

Estimating forest characteristics such as carbon and tree growth over space and time using TreeMap, FIADB, and FVS
Feb 15, 2024: Karin Riley, Research Ecologist and John Shaw, Forest Inventory and Analysis

Behave7 Fire Modeling System: A Long Time Coming
Feb 22, 2024: Faith Ann Heinsch, Physical Scientist; LaWen Hollingsworth, Fire Behavior Specialist; Greg Dillon, Director, Fire Modeling Institute

Wildfire risk and mitigation opportunities in the US sagebrush biome
Feb 29, 2024: Karen Short, Research Ecologist

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Linking heterogeneity at the WUI to wildfire dynamics

Webinar recording.

The complex interactions between atmospheric and fire-induced winds are a persistent obstacle to accurately predicting wildfire front behavior. There are a multitude of wildfire spread models, with one primary distinction being the level of fire-atmosphere coupling in each. Coupling of fire-induced winds and ambient winds in numerical models is carried out through linking the heat and mass fluxes from the wildfire with the surface energy fluxes in the atmospheric model. The challenge in this coupling is increased with the introduction of heterogenous surface conditions, e.g., terrain, canopies, buildings. To better understand the dynamic coupling of fire-induced winds and atmospheric winds at microscales, the fast-response wildfire model QES-Fire was used to study the effects of fire-induced winds near structures, and the relative importance of the momentum deficits caused by canopies and structures on fire-induced winds.

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7th International Fire Behavior and Fuels Conference

Conference website.

Fuel, Fire and Smoke: Evolving to Meet Our Climate Challenge
Wildfires present an increasing challenge to humanity and the ecosystems and atmosphere we depend on. The ability of societies to respond to larger and more destructive wildfire events and mitigate against further climate impacts is also increasingly challenged. As our climate changes, and the effects are experienced in unique ways across diverse settings and societies, understanding fire behavior and human responses to this is even more critical.

The 7th International Fire Behavior and Fuels Conference offers a forum where past Fire Management experience and lessons learned are documented, current work showcased, and emerging research, innovation and techniques on fire management shared, towards developing integrated solutions to these challenges.

This conference on three continents provides an opportunity to showcase how different countries can implement newly developed fire management policies and frameworks at national, regional and local levels to address fire risks and build resilience.  The Conference will unite policy makers, scientists, fire managers and Indigenous land stewards for a shared purpose and a different future living with fire.

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Fuel treatments in shrublands experiencing PJ expansion result in trade-offs between desired vegetation and increased fire behavior

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While prescribed fire and mechanical treatments in shrublands experiencing tree expansion restored understory vegetation and prevented continued juniper and pinyon infilling and growth, these fuel treatments also increased modeled surface fire behavior. Thus, management tradeoffs occur between desired future vegetation and wildfire risk after fuel treatments.

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Evolution of fire management and the role of knowledge

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The story of how fire managers slowed a fire and benefited the ecosystem. This was accomplished thanks to previous fires that were managed for resource benefit. This is the story of the 2021 Rafael Fire that started just 20 miles outside of Flagstaff, AZ. On day 2 the fire ran 12 miles towards town, causing evacuations and worry. Things changed on day 3, watch the video to learn more. This video contains beautiful drone footage of unhealthy forests and the benefits of fire. Thanks to a shift in fire management, a bad situation was transformed into a beneficial one.

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