5.1 Observed fire-atmosphere interactions during a low-intensity prescribed fire in a forested environment

Wednesday, 19 October 2011: 8:30 AM
Grand Zoso Ballroom Center (Hotel Zoso)
Warren E. Heilman, USDA Forest Service, Lansing, MI; and X. Bian, J. L. Hom, K. L. Clark, N. Skowronski, S. Zhong, J. J. Charney, M. Gallagher, M. Patterson, M. T. Kiefer, and R. P. Shadbolt

As part of a Joint Fire Science Program project focused on the development and adaptation of atmospheric dispersion models for predicting local smoke transport and diffusion from low-intensity wildland fires in forest environments, a comprehensive prescribed-fire field experiment was carried out in the New Jersey Pine Barrens to collect meteorological and air-quality data for validating the dispersion models. An extensive monitoring network comprised of surface- and tower-based meteorological and air-quality instrumentation was established within and in the vicinity of a 265-acre plot (Pitch Pine overstory; Viccinium and Oak understory) slated for a prescribed burn in 2011 by the New Jersey Forest Fire Service. Variables measured by this network included profiles of high-frequency (10 Hz) wind speeds, wind directions, and temperatures; soil temperatures; relative humidity; net radiation; surface heat flux; atmospheric pressure; and carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, and particulate matter concentrations. A low-intensity prescribed fire was ignited in the plot on 20 March 2011 by the New Jersey Forest Fire Service and allowed to burn through the monitoring network. This paper provides an overview of the prescribed-fire field experiment and presents results from analyses of the meteorological data collected within and in the vicinity of the experimental plot during the prescribed burn. The results from the data analyses suggest that forest canopies can have a significant impact on the atmospheric environment, including turbulence, which in turn can affect fire behavior and smoke transport and diffusion.
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