11.1 Linking local wildfire dynamics to pyroCb development

Thursday, 7 May 2015: 1:30 PM
Great Lakes Ballroom (Crowne Plaza Minneapolis Northstar)
Rick McRae, Australian Capital Territory Emergency Services Agency, Canberra, Australia; and J. J. Sharples and M. D. Fromm

Extreme wildfires are global phenomena that consistently result in loss of life and property and further impact the cultural, economic and political stability of communities. In their most severe form they cause widespread devastation of environmental assets and are capable of impacting the upper troposphere/lower stratosphere through the formation of a thunderstorm within the plume. Such fires are now often observed by a range of remote-sensing technologies, which together allow a greater understanding of a fire's complex dynamics. Recent research into dynamic modes of fire propagation has identified several processes that can cause a fire to transition from a normal frontal burning pattern to an areal burning pattern. In this paper we will present research on a particular mode of dynamic fire propagation that involves atypical lateral spread of a fire across steep leeward slopes. Moreover, we combine fire behaviour data with radar data to demonstrate a spatiotemporal link between the resulting local fire dynamics and the development of towering pyrocumulonimbus (pyroCb) storms. This link is expected to be significant in future efforts to predict the onset of such fire events.
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