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

Monday, 17 November 2003: 1:45 PM
Predicting surface winds in complex terrain for use in fire growth models
Jason M. Forthofer, USDA Forest Service, Missoula, MT; and B. W. Butler, K. S. Shannon, M. A. Finney, L. S. Bradshaw, and R. Stratton
Poster PDF (881.6 kB)
It is readily acknowledged that wind speed and direction can have a major influence on fire intensity and rate of spread. Accurate modeling of fire behavior requires either assumptions about the wind flow acting on the flames, or modeling of the flow field. Simple surface boundary layer flow models or empirical correlations are used to calculate the “midflame” wind acting on the fire. Recent advances in computer technology have resulted in commercially available software programs that can accurately simulate fluid flow using desktop computers. Here we describe the application of commerical computational fluid dynamics models to the simulation of air flow over complex terrain. We compare fire growth simulations with and without high resolution wind information. The comparisons indicate that this technique can provide valuable information about the flow field and its interaction with the fire.

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