Fire Behavior

The study of wildland fire behavior addresses the dynamics of energy release and fire propagation from combustion in wildland fuels across a wide range of spatial scales. Fire behavior is the foundation for models and knowledege used by managers in prediction, planning, and training. Critical processes in fire behavior remain unexplained and thereby limit the accuracy and reliability of modeling and create uncertainty throughout the spectrum of fire management activities. Research products that expand knowledge and yield practical advances in modeling will profoundly improve the Forest Service’s ability to manage fire and it’s effects for the benefit of natural resources and human communities.

Projects in Fire Behavior

Displaying 1 - 38 of 38
ArcFuels
2005-present
Vegetation and fuel management planning is a complex problem that requires advanced vegetation and fire behavior modeling and intensive spatial data analyses. Both the benefits and potential impacts of proposed treatments must be clearly demonstrated in the context of land management goals and public expectations. Potential fire behavior metrics,…
BehavePlus
2002-present
Image The BehavePlus fire modeling system is a Windows®-based computer program that can be used for any fire management application that needs to calculate fire behavior. It uses specified fuel and moisture conditions to simulate surface and crown fire rate of fire spread and intensity, probability…
Burning Rate
2011-present
Understanding Burning Rate and Residence Time of Porous Fuel Beds Using Wood Cribs The fire spread process is fundamentally a series of ignitions, where a parcel of fuel ignites and burns at a particular rate, heating the neighboring fuel parcel until it subsequently ignites.  The burning rate (and the associated heat release rate) of a fuel…
Climate Change on Global Fire Danger
2014-present
Wildfires occur at the intersection of dry weather, available fuel, and ignition sources. Weather is the most variable and largest driver of regional burned area. Temperature, relative humidity, precipitation, and wind speed independently influence wildland fire spread rates and intensities. The alignment of multiple weather extremes, such as the…
Convective Ignition
2011-present
Research conducted at the Missoula Fire Lab has found that the amount of radiant heat in wildland fires is not sufficient to ignite fine fuel particles such as needles and grasses.  These fine fuels are highly efficient at convective heat transfer, so any amount of airflow can easily offset the radiant heat generated by the fire.  As a consequence…
Describing Wildland Fuels
2012-Present
Considerable effort is expended to determine fuel loadings and to map those loadings across the landscape, yet there is little or no work being done to determine how to incorporate those measurements into the next generation of fire behavior models, such as physics-based models. Identifying critical spatial and temporal fuel characteristics…
Evaluating Fuel Treatment Effectiveness
2013-present
Increasingly intense fire seasons, rapidly changing ecosystems, and an expanding wildland-urban interface all increase the hazard that fires pose to communities, watersheds, and ecosystems. Fuel treatments offer managers an opportunity to proactively mitigate threats to firefighters and communities as well as to maintain or restore healthy…
FastFuels: 3D Fuels for Next Generation Fire Models
2020-present
Advanced 3D fire models offer new possibilities for detailed analysis of fuel treatments and prescribed fires. However, the spatially explicit, detailed 3D fuels data they require is difficult to get, particularly for large areas. FastFuels opens the door to this kind of modeling by combining existing fuels and spatial data with cutting edge…
Fire Characteristics Chart
2009 - present
The fire characteristics chart is a graphical method of presenting primary surface or crown fire behavior characteristics or U.S. National Fire Danger Rating (NFDRS) indices. It is a stand-alone component of the BehavePlus fire modeling system. A desktop computer application produces fire characteristics charts for both fire danger and fire…
Fire Lab Seminar Series
The Seminar Series runs from Fall to Spring
The Missoula Fire Sciences Laboratory has been hosting an annual seminar series since 1998. Hour-long seminars are presented by Fire Lab employees and other researchers from throughout the world. Seminars cover current research and management about the natural world from a broad range of disciplines, but most seminars usually have a wildland fire…
FireFamilyPlus
1998-present
FireFamily+ (FF+) is a software package used to calculate fuel moistures and indices from the US National Fire Danger Rating System (NFDRS) using hourly or daily fire weather observations primarily from Remote Automated Weather Stations (RAWS). NFDRS use is mandated for fire preparedness and response decisions by all Federal and most State…
Firefighter Safety
1996-present
Perhaps one of the most critical decisions made by firefighters during daily fire management operations is the identification of suitable safety zones. As a consequence of 11 firefighters being killed on the Inaja Fire in 1957, the U.S. Forest Service issued a report recommending that firefighters identify safety zones at all times when fighting…
Flame Structure
2013-present
Experimental evidence now shows that flame impingement is required for ignition of fine fuel particles responsible for the spread of wildland fires. However, the characteristics of the non-steady flame zone that produce convective heating of fuel particles has not been studied. It is not known how to describe, qualitatively or mathematically, the…
FlamMap
2003-present
Image FlamMap is a fire analysis desktop application that runs in a 64-bit Windows Operating System environment. It can simulate potential fire behavior characteristics (spread rate, flame length, fireline intensity, etc.), fire growth and spread and conditional burn probabilities under constant…
FuelCalc - Canopy fuel calculator and model
2006-present
FuelCalc is a desktop software application for determining changes in surface and crown fuel loading after thinning, pruning, piling and/or prescribed fire. Ground, surface, and canopy fuel characteristics serve as essential inputs to computer models of fire behavior and fire effects. FuelCalc is a software system for assisting local and regional…
Fuels and potential fire behavior in balsam woolly adelgid-impacted forests
2020-present
We are developing a product and methodology that allows rapid assessment of fuels and potential fire hazard in forests impacted by the non-native balsam woolly adelgid (BWA) to better protect and improve the health of western America’s high-elevation fir forests. We will 1) compare fuel metrics derived from standard field procedures with aerial…
Fundamental Wildland Fire Spread Research
2011-present
Current operational fire behavior models are empirically based on fire spread through surface fuels and do not describe heating and combustion processes. Current physical models describe fire spread processes; however, the fire spread processes of heat exchange and ignition are assumed without an experimental basis. FFS researchers and…
Improving firefighter safety
2005-2017
Wildland firefighting by its nature is inherently dangerous. There have been 699 wildland firefighters die in fire related accidents between 1910 and 1996 in the United States; 384 of those were directly related to fire entrapments. Wildland firefighters must consider all risks to themselves and others when approaching, suppressing, and managing…
LANDFIRE Overview
2004-present
An overview of LANDFIRE organization, processes, and products. LANDFIRE produces consistent national-level, landscape-scale geospatial products to support fire and fuels management planning, analysis, and budgeting to evaluate fire management alternatives. Principal partners in the production process are the United States Department of Interior (…
LANDFIRE ReMap
2014-present
Scoping for comprehensive decadal remapping in order capture gradual, cumulative, and broad-scale changes for the entire LANDFIRE mapping area has begun. This remap will capture changes due to drought, invasive species, vegetation succession, disturbance, and loss of open space. The main objective of this effort is to create a new "base map" (top…
Live Fuels and Fire Behavior Research
2010-present
Wildland fires are a common global ecosystem disturbance and they spread through a combination of living and dead vegetation. Historically, research on fuel ignition and fire behavior characteristics has focused on dead fuels that are easily manipulated in the field and laboratory. However, live fuels represents a large part of the wildland fuel…
Lubrecht Fire-Fire Surrogate Study
2000-present
Fire frequency in low-elevation coniferous forests in western North America has greatly declined since the late 1800s. In many areas, this has increased tree density and the proportion of shade- tolerant species, reduced resource availability, and increased forest susceptibility to forest insect pests and high-severity wildfire. In response,…
Mapping and modeling fuels and fire at the Sycan Marsh, Oregon
2017 - present
The research being performed through multidisciplinary collaboration efforts at TNC’s Sycan Marsh Preserve in Oregon is providing much needed data for fuel mapping efforts by linking surface fuel datasets with TLS and UAS data pre, during, and post-fire. It also provides essential data for fire mapping and behavioral understanding of forest and…
National Fire Danger Rating System
1994-present
NFDRS applications involve two steps: a historical analysis to set appropriate fire danger breakpoints and an operational system to provide NFDRS fuel moistures and indices in real-time. Historical analyses are performed by combining fire weather and fire occurrence data in Fire Family Plus. Operational indices are produced by the Weather…
Physics of Fire Spread
2009-present
Understanding the Physics of Fire Spread To better understand how wildland fire spreads under various conditions, the National Fire Decision Support Center, a collaborative effort between U.S. Forest Service, Fire and Aviation Management and Research and Development, has supported ongoing research at the Missoula Fire Sciences Laboratory. The…
RWPE - Restoring Whitebark Pine Ecosystems
1993-present
Evaluating effects of various prescribed burning and silvicultural techniques used for restoring whitebark pine ecosystems (RWPE) The loss of whitebark pine is serious for upper subalpine ecosystems because it is considered a keystone species across most of its range, producing large seeds that are an important food source for more than 110…
RxCadre Project
2012-present
Obtaining Integrated, Quality-assured Fuels, Fire, and Atmospheric Data for Development and Evaluation of Fuels, Fire Behavior, Smoke, and Fire Effects Models The lack of co-located, multi-scale measures of pre-fire fuels, active fire processes, and post-fire effects hinders our ability to tackle fundamental fire science questions. The lack of…
SERDP RC20-Closing Gaps
2020-present
This project responds to the Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program (SERDP)’s FY 2020 Statement of Need: “DoD WILDLAND FIRE MANAGEMENT RESEARCH FOR IMPROVED MILITARY LAND USE”, for which the overarching objective was “to improve understanding of self-organization of convective structures and near-fire smoke plume development for…
Spring Dip
2012-Present
Both firefighters and fire scientists have observed a period of peak crown fire activity in the Great Lakes area during spring when a dip in foliar moisture content occurs. For decades, the cause and timing of this ‘dip’ have been poorly understood. It is therefore important to understand the drivers of this dip in order to improve wildland…
Surface Wind Modeling
2002 - ongoing
High resolution surface wind modeling in support of fire management Wind can be the dominant environmental variable affecting wildland fire intensity and spread. When fire is burning in mountainous terrain, winds can vary widely in speed and direction over scales of 3 to 200 feet. The result is rapid changes in fire intensity at small scales that…
Terrestrial lidar scanners and TreeQSM 3D fuels modeling
2020-present
Using destructive samplings methods and a Leica BLK360 terrestrial lidar scanner (TLS), we measured and scanned 20 small diameter trees. We then compare our lab-based results to the 3D quantitative structure model output retrieved from inputting our point clouds into TreeQSM code. Airborne laser scans (ALS; also referred to as airborne LiDAR)…
U.S. Wildfires
2010-present
A Spatial Database of U.S. Wildfires Wildfire occurrence records provide baseline information that is essential for wildfire management and research in the United States. However, there are multiple federal, state, and local entities with wildfire protection and reporting responsibilities in the United States, and no single, unified system of…
Weather Information Management System Support
2015-present
The U.S. National Fire Danger Rating System (NFDRS) is used by all federal and most state fire management agencies for assessing seasonal fire severity across the nation. The application that hosts the NFDRS is the Washington Office Fire and Aviation Management’s (WO F&AM) Weather Information Management System (WIMS) located at the USDA…
Wildfire Hazard Potential
2008-present
Wildfire Hazard Potential* for the United States The wildfire hazard potential (WHP) map is a raster geospatial product produced by the USDA Forest Service, Fire Modeling Institute that can help to inform evaluations of wildfire hazard or prioritization of fuels management needs across very large landscapes.Our specific objective with the WHP map…
Wildfire Risk to Communities
2020-present
Wildfire Risk to Communities is a free, easy-to-use website with interactive maps, charts, and resources to help communities understand, explore, and reduce wildfire risk. The website was created by the USDA Forest Service under the direction of Congress and is designed to be a starting point to help community leaders, such as elected officials,…
Wildland Fire Investment Planning System (WFIPS)
2016-Present
Purpose: The WFIPS system is intended to conduct risk-based analysis of fire management activities and wildfire outcomes for alternative investments in Preparedness, Hazardous Fuels, and Large Fire Suppression. Analysis occurs at user-specified scales from local (i.e. District, National Forests) to Regional and National for all lands and all…
WindNinja
2005-present
WindNinja is a computer program that computes spatially varying wind fields for wildland fire application. See the WindNinja project website for more details. Check out the new WindNinja-Mobile application! Take a look at our WindNinja story map to see a quick overview. Wind is one of the most influential environmental factors affecting…
WindNinja-Mobile
2016-Present
Take a look at our WindNinja story map to see a quick overview of WindNinja and WindNinja Mobile. The WindNinja computer program is a powerful tool for predicting wind fields in complex terrain, but is inconvenient for field users. To solve this problem, WindNinja-Mobile has been developed so field going personnel can also benefit from these high…