Modeling Wildfire Behavior and Analyzing Emissions

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Sunday, 17 January 2010
Exhibit Hall B2 (GWCC)
Marques A. Cameron, SOARS, Woodbridge, VA

The new atmospheric prediction model, the Weather Research and Forecasting Model version 3.1 (WRF) coupled with the empirical fire spread model was used to model wildfire behavior and analyze emissions. Modeling wildfires includes calculating the spread rate and where a fire will propagate based on environmental conditions. The spread rate and direction of propagation play a key role in fire suppression efforts. The products and emissions of wildfires contribute to the weather and the air quality. WRF-Fire is a two-way coupling module. While providing feedback to the fire, directing where it travels and controlling the spread rate, the fire module provides feedback to the atmosphere. Using the fire module WRF-Fire to analyze the emissions from a standard model (the control). The fuel moisture, wind speed, fuel loading, and fuel category were changed and the emissions were compared. We found that heat flux is directly proportional to fuel moisture level and fuel loading. Fire spread rate is directly proportional to the wind speed. Using a new fire module we were able to reproduce the shape of naturally occurring fires and relate how they depend on environmental conditions. The results gained from this research can be used as verification data for future models.