5th Symposium on Fire and Forest Meteorology and the 2nd International Wildland Fire Ecology and Fire Management Congress

Monday, 17 November 2003: 5:00 PM
“Rabbit Rules”—an application of Stephen Wolfram’s “new kind of science” to fire spread modeling
Gary L. Achtemeier, USDA Forest Service, Athens, GA
Poster PDF (672.7 kB)
Fire spread, the outcome of complex interactions between fire, fuels, terrain, and weather, is difficult to model mathematically. Alternatively, it is possible to recast the problem as a set of simple rules. These rules can be framed as simple computer programs to model the processes. The computer programs can produce complex solutions such as fractal fire fronts, breaks in fire lines, waves (or bulges), “heads,” and flanking lines. To keep rule-making apart from physical and mathematical logic, the rules are cast in terms of “rabbit behavior.” Rabbit behavior has an analog to fire behavior. Because of its simplicity, the “Rabbit Model” should be considered as a “screening model.” The goal is to make the “Rabbit Model” a baseline for fire spread models. In other words, in comparisons with sophisticated fire spread models, the Rabbit Model would be the model to “beat.” The Rabbit Model is a modification of the operational smoke model, PB-Piedmont. It uses an existing user interface and data assimilation and therefore can be brought to operational capability relatively quickly. That is, once the Rabbit Rules are connected with fire behavior through constants in the computer programs. Results from simulations with hypothetical data will be presented.

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