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Photoload

A new fuel loading sampling method is developed to quickly and accurately estimate loadings for six surface fuel components using downward-looking and oblique photographs depicting sequences of graduated fuel loadings by fuel component. 

Fire managers need better estimates of fuel loading using techniques that are easy, fast, and reliable so they can more accurately predict the potential fire behavior and effects of alternative fuel and ecosystem restoration treatments. A new fuel sampling method, called the photoload sampling technique, has been developed to quickly and accurately estimate loadings for six common surface fuel components (1 hr, 10 hr, 100 hr, and 1000 hr down dead woody, shrub, and herbaceous fuels). This technique involves visually comparing fuel conditions observed in the field with photoload sequences to estimate fuel loadings. Photoload sequences are a series of downward-looking and close-up oblique photographs depicting a sequence of graduated fuel loadings of synthetic fuelbeds for each of the six fuel components. This research as created a report that contains a set of photoload sequences that describe the range of fuel component loadings for common forest conditions in the northern Rocky Mountains of Montana, USA to estimate fuel loading in the field. A detailed sampling method, called the photoload sampling protocol, has also been developed to use with these photoload picture series to estimate fuel component loadings at various levels of effort and scale. This technique has been compared with other common fuel loading sampling methods for accuracy and precision.

Image: An example of a series of downward pointing pictures of graduated fuel loadings to estimate actual fuel loadings in the field.

Photo: Photoload examples
Modified: Jun 08, 2015

Select Publications & Products

Keane, R. E., and L. J. Dickinson. 2007. The Photoload sampling technique: estimating surface fuel loadings using downward looking photographs. General Technical Report RMRS-GTR-190, USDA Forest Service Rocky Mountain Research Station.

Keane, R. E., and L. J. Dickinson. 2007. Development and evaluation of the photoload sampling technique. Research Paper RMRS-RP-61CD, USDA Forest Service Rocky Mountain Research Station.

Sikkink, P., and R. E. Keane. 2008. A comparison of five sampling techniques to estimate surface fuel loading in montane forests. International Journal of Wildland Fire. 17:363-379.

Sikkink, P., Robert E. Keane, D. Lutes. 2009. Field guide for identifying Fuel Loading Models. USDA Forest Service Rocky Mountain Research Station General Technical Report RMRS-GTR-225. 33 pages

Holley, Violet J.; Keane, Robert E. 2010. A visual training tool for the Photoload sampling technique. Gen. Tech. Rep. RMRS-GTR-242. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station. 235 p.

Keane, R.E. and K. Gray. 2013. Comparing three sampling techniques to estimate down dead woody surface fuel biomass. International Journal of Wildland Fire 22:1093-1107.