A new 3D analysis shows that wildland fires flare up in forests populated by similar-sized trees or checkerboarded by large clearings and slow down where trees are more varied.
A new 3D analysis shows that wildland fires flare up in forests populated by similar-sized trees or checkerboarded by large clearings and slow down where trees are more varied. The research can help fire managers better understand the physics and dynamics of fire to improve fire-behavior forecasts.
“We knew fuel arrangement affected fire but we didn’t know how,” said Adam Atchley, lead author on a Los Alamos National Laboratory-led study published today in the International Journal of Wildland Fire. “Traditional models that represent simplified fuel structures can’t account for complex wind and varied fire response to actual forest conditions. Our study incorporated a varied, 3D forest and wind behavior. Adding diverse tree sizes and shapes slowed fire quite a bit, as did adding small gaps between trees. By examining the physics of fire-fuel behavior, we are able to see fundamentally how forest structure affects behavior.”
The study for the first time links generalized forest characteristics that can be easily observed by remote sensing and modeled by machine learning to provide insight into fire behavior, even in large forested areas.
Read more at: Los Alamos National Laboratory
Wildfires are becoming more prolific and devastating. A Los Alamos study reveals dynamics that help practitioners predict and prevent fire. (Photo Credit: Courtesy of National Park Service)