Fire Behavior

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Fuels treatments ease fire behavior in Pack Creek – A story map

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The Pack Creek Wildfire, ignited by an abandoned campfire, started early in the fire season on June 9, 2021 in the Pack Creek Day Use Area on the Manti-La Sal National Forest.

Under the influence of down-slope, down-canyon winds, the fire made a push west and down Pack Creek. The fire quickly exploded as a crown fire through a riparian area composed largely of cottonwood trees and pinyon and juniper landscapes. Within the community, fuel breaks implemented by Forestry, Fire and State Lands (State of Utah, FFSL) were designed to act as intermittent catch points for firefighters to actively engage the fire.

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Weather impacts on fire thresholds: Recipe for big fire

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Large wildfires need four key ingredients to burn, not just one. Ignitions, fuels, and drought thresholds must be crossed at the same time, enhanced by anomalous weather events such as foehn winds. But how do these ingredients, or drivers, fit together in various ecosystems? In this important concept paper, Pausas and Keeley (2021) outline the mechanistic flow of these complex drivers for fire prone ecosystems and illustrate this in the figure below (Fig.1). In brief, the fire weather for a given ecosystem helps to push the other three essential driver thresholds, or saturation points, down. With ignitions, fuel continuity, and drought saturation points simultaneously lowered by the right weather, wildfire will be triggered.

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Microscale wind modeling: WindNinja for fire management

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WindNinja, a tool developed by RMRS scientists, delivers high-resolution wind predictions within seconds for emergency fire responders making on-the-ground decisions. The program computes spatially-varying wind fields to help predict winds at small scales in complex terrain. These predictions are extremely important in fire-prone landscapes where local changes in the near-surface wind are not predicted well by either operational weather models or expert judgment but are extremely important for accurate fire behavior predictions.

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Introduction to ‘Compare Weather’ functions in IFTDSS

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Description: Compare and view up to 5 Weather Scenarios to evaluate effects on fire behavior. Only in the Interagency Fuel Treatment Decision Support System (IFTDSS) can you run fire behavior models and compare the outputs side-by-side. Easily view on the map, change the inputs and re-run to explore the impacts of weather on fire behavior outputs. Great for enhancing your burn plans, NEPA documents or understanding and calibrating model outputs.

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Using Soil Moisture Information to Better Understand and Predict Wildfire Danger

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Description: This free online symposium for researchers and fire managers will highlight the latest advances in using soil moisture information to better understand and predict wildfire danger. These recent discoveries are revealing the potential for soil moisture estimates from in situ monitoring stations, remote sensing, and models to improve fire danger predictions and to advance our understanding of fire behavior. This interactive symposium will provide researchers and fire managers a unique opportunity to connect with others, to learn about ongoing research in this area, and to discuss ways to move forward with new research and end uses.

John Bolten, Hydrological Sciences Branch, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
J. D. Carlson, Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering, Oklahoma State University
Nicholas Coops, Forest Resources Management, University of British Columbia
W. Matt Jolly, Rocky Mountain Research Station Fire Sciences Laboratory, U.S. Forest Service
Brian Magi, Geography and Earth Sciences, University of North Carolina at Charlotte
Brad Quayle, Geospatial Technology and Applications Center, U.S. Forest Service
J. T. Reager, Terrestrial Hydrology Group, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Angela Rigden, Earth and Planetary Sciences, Harvard University

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Fieldwork from afar: Remote sensing tools to inventory fuels and fire behavior

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Description: The idea of using sensors to remotely measure things is not new. Aerial photos taken from hot air balloons were first proposed as a tool for mapping streets in the 1850s. In 1941, a US Forest Service ranger developed a technique for mapping fuels with aerial photos. Recent advances in remote sensing have dramatically increased the amount of spatial information that can be generated for a given area. This webinar will look at some of the ways the Fire and Environmental Research Applications Team at the Seattle Fire Lab is using remote sensing to measure fuels and fire behavior. We’ll also discuss how this information can improve our capacity to model fires.
Presenter: Jim Cronan is a forester at the Pacific Wildland Fire Sciences Lab in Seattle, WA. He coordinates field data collection for scientists on the Fire and Environmental Research Applications Team and has been involved with research on fuels and fire behavior for 20 years.

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3D fuel characterization for modeling of wildland fire behavior and smoke

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Rapid advancements in wildland fire modeling are promoting innovations in how we characterize and map wildland fuels. Before these models can be widely used, more research on fuel characterization and mapping methods is needed to support3D model inputs. The 3D Fuels Project is characterizing surface and canopy fuels on pine-dominated sites in the southeastern and western United States and western grasslands that represent fuels commonly characterized for prescribed burning. Through this project, researchers are developing a library of tools and datasets to leverage multi-scale estimates of 3D fuel structure and consumption that can be used directly within models of fire behavior and smoke production.

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Advanced burn boss workshop and fire science symposium

The Advanced Burn Boss Workshop and Fire Science Symposium (click “Log in as Guest” in the event portal) is a combined virtual event that will provide targeted training for burn bosses: RT300, IFTDSS, and smoke modeling, as well as interactive presentations for a wide audience that bridge research and practice using the three pillars of the Cohesive Strategy: Resilient Ecosystems, Fire Adapted Communities, and Safe and Effective Wildfire Response.

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Fire behavior and ecology of the shrub steppe

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Alison Dean, Central Oregon Fire Management Service and U.S. Bureau of Land Management, and Marth Brabec, City of Boise, will provide an overview of historic and modern fire behavior in different communities of the sagebrush biome, shrub steppe ecology, and post-fire restoration considerations.

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Modelling suppression difficulty: Current and future applications

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Improving decision processes and the informational basis upon which decisions are made in pursuit of safer and more effective fire response have become key priorities of the fire research community. One area of emphasis is bridging the gap between fire researchers and managers through development of application-focused, operationally relevant decision support tools. In this paper we focus on a family of such tools designed to characterise the difficulty of suppression operations by weighing suppression challenges against suppression opportunities. These tools integrate potential fire behaviour, vegetation cover types, topography, road and trail networks, existing fuel breaks and fireline production potential to map the operational effort necessary for fire suppression. We include case studies from two large fires in the USA and Spain to demonstrate model updates and improvements intended to better capture extreme fire behaviour and present results demonstrating successful fire containment where suppression difficulty index (SDI) values were low and containment only after a moderation of fire weather where SDI values were high. A basic aim of this work is reducing the uncertainty and increasing the efficiency of suppression operations through assessment of landscape conditions and incorporation of expert knowledge into planning.

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