Fire Behavior

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New technology allows scientists to see the forces behind the flames

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This news story provides some about the history and future of fire behavior research.

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Near-term probabilistic forecast of significant wildfire events for the western United States

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In this study, we present a framework for forecasting large fire occurrence – an extreme value event – and evaluating measures of uncertainties that do not rely on distributional assumptions. The statistical model presented here incorporates qualitative fire danger indices along with other location and seasonal specific explanatory variables to produce maps of forecasted probability of an ignition becoming a large fire, as well as numbers of large fires with measures of uncertainties. As an example, 6 years of fire occurrence data from the Western US were used to study the utility of two fire danger indices: the 7-Day Significant Fire Potential Outlook issued by Predictive Services in the US and the National Fire Danger Rating’s Energy Release Component. This exercise highlights the potential utility of the quantitative risk index as a real-time decision support tool that can enhance managers’ abilities to discriminate among planning areas in terms of the likelihood and range of expected significant fire events.

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Integrating fuels treatments and ecological values in piñon-juniper woodlands: Fuels, vegetation, and avifauna

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This study investigated the effects of mastication and hand-thinning treatments in piñon-juniper (PJ) woodlands on ecological processes including fire, and on a wide range of species, particularly vulnerable PJ obligate birds.  Treatments drove major, persistent ecological shifts relative to controls. Tree cover and canopy fuels were reduced; concomitantly, down woody surface fuels, forb, and grass cover increased. Treatments exhibited rapid, large, and persistent increases in the frequency, richness, and cover of 20 non-native plant species including cheatgrass.  Treatments substantially reduced the occupancy of piñon-juniper specialist and conifer obligate bird species.

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Wildland fire: Nature’s fuel treatment

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This bulletin summarizes the evaluation of more than 40 years of satellite imagery to determine what happens when a fire burns into a previously burned area. Results from this research are helping land managers to assess whether a previous wildland fire will act as a fuel treatment based on the length of time since the previous fire and local conditions such as ecosystem type, topography, and fire weather conditions. By factoring in the ecological benefits of fire, land managers are able to manage fire in a way that fosters more resilient landscapes.

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Fire Behavior Field Reference Guide

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** Updated 2017 ** The Fire Behavior Field Reference Guide (FBFRG) was developed as a hands-on user tool for field going Fire Behavior Analysts (FBANs), Long Term Fire Analysts (LTANs), and other fire behavior operational personnel. The FBFRG was created by the S-590 steering committee. The guide was developed by course coordinators, coaches, and field going personnel as a reference tool and look up guide for use in training and in the field by fire behavior analysts and fire managers alike.

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An uncertainty analysis of wildfire modeling

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In this chapter, we identify and classify sources of uncertainty using an established analytical framework, and summarize results graphically in an uncertainty matrix. Our analysis facilitates characterization of the underlying nature of each source of uncertainty (inherent system variability versus limited knowledge), the location where it manifests within the modeling process (inputs, parameters, model structure, etc.), and its magnitude or level (on a continuum from complete determinism to total ignorance). We adapt this framework to the wildfire context by identifying different planning horizons facing fire managers (near‐, mid‐, and long‐term) as well as modeling domains that correspond to major factors influencing fire activity (fire behavior, ignitions, landscape, weather, and management). Our results offer a high‐level synthesis that ideally can provide a sound informational basis for evaluating current modeling efforts and that can guide more in‐depth analyses in the future. Key findings include: (1) uncertainties compound and magnify as the planning horizon lengthens; and (2) while many uncertainties are due to variability, gaps in basic fire-spread theory present a major source of knowledge uncertainty.

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BehavePlus Fire Modeling System

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Behave Plus is a Windows-based computer program that can be used for any fire management application that involves modeling fire behavior and fire effects. The system is composed of a collection of mathematical models that describe fire behavior, fire effects, and the fire environment. The program simulates rate of fire spread, spotting distance, scorch height, tree mortality, fuel moisture, wind adjustment factor, and many other fire behaviors and effects; so it is commonly used to predict fire behavior in several situations.

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Fire Applications – Fire, Fuel, and Smoke Science Program

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This Missoula Fire Lab webpage provides links to and descriptions of the many fire modeling applications they have developed.

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Wildfire Risk Assessment Portal – Utah Department of Natural Resources

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The Utah Wildfire Risk Assessment Portal is the primary mechanism for Utah Division of Forestry, Fire, and State Lands to deploy wildfire risk information and create awareness about wildfire issues across the state. It is comprised of a suite of applications tailored to support specific workflow and information requirements for the public, local community groups, private landowners, government officials, hazard-mitigation planners, and wildland fire managers. Collectively these applications will provide the baseline information needed to support mitigation and prevention efforts across the state.

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Synthesis of knowledge of extreme fire behavior: Vol. 2 for fire behavior specialists, researchers, and meterorologists

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This report synthesizes existing extreme fire behavior knowledge in a way that connects the weather, fuel, and topographic factors that contribute to development of extreme fire behavior. It focuses on the state of the science but also considers how that science is currently presented to the fire management community, including incident commanders, fire behavior analysts, incident meteorologists, National Weather Service office forecasters, and firefighters.

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