USDA Forest Service

Fire and Environmental Research Applications Team


Fire and Environmental Research Applications Team
Pacific Wildland Fire Sciences Laboratory

400 N 34th Street, Suite 201
Seattle, WA 98103

(206) 732-7800

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arrowLarge Eddy Simulation of Forest Canopy Flow for Wildland Fire Modeling
Large eddy simulation (LES) based computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulators have obtained increasing attention in the wildland fire research community, as these tools allow the inclusion of important driving physics. However, due to the complexity of the models, individual aspects must be isolated and tested rigorously to ensure meaningful results. As wind is a driving force that can significantly dictate the behavior of a wildfire, the simulation of wind is studied here in the context of a particular LES CFD model, the Wildland–Urban Interface Fire Dynamics Simulator (WFDS).

This research was undertaken by FERA’s Ruddy Mell along with Eric Mueller and Albert Simeoni of the University of Edinburgh.

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arrowWFDS Makes Use of New Jersey Pine Barrens Research Data

FERA recently welcomed Eric Mueller, University of Edinburgh, to the Pacific Wildland Fire Sciences Laboratory for a six week visit while working with Ruddy Mell on the Wildland Urban Interface Fire Dynamics System (WFDS). He will be using data from last year’s research fires in the New Jersey Pine Barrens to evaluate the performance of the WFDS model. This experiment was funded, in part, by the Joint Fire Science Program.


New Study Evaluates Effects of Salvage Logging on Snag Longevity, Fuel Loading and Understory Development

Data collection will begin this summer to evaluate salvage logging effects on California’s 2014 King Fire. Study results will improve the understanding of the longevity of snags, and the effect of salvage on fuel loading and understory development. Results will provide information about replanting patterns that could reduce future maintenance costs while simultaneously improving stand resilience.

FERA's Morris Johnson and Pacific Southwest Research Station’s Eric Knapp, Malcolm North, Martin Ritchie, and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo’s Sarah Bisbing are the investigators on this project.

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arrowRoger Ottmar Advises on Smoke Management Techniques

Since January 2015, fire managers around the country learned about advances in smoke management techniques from FERA’s Roger Ottmar. He taught a portion of the Rx-410 training (Smoke Management Techniques) to classes aroudn the country.

This course leads students through the ecological and historical role of fire, characteristics of smoke, and the health, safety and visibility impacts of smoke. Other topics include: public relations, legal requirements, meteorology, fuel consumption, smoke dispersion modeling, and operational smoke management strategies.

Each course was offered in a different geographic area. In January, Roger taught in Denver, CO (Rocky Mountain), Grand Rapids, Minnesota (East); Redmond, Oregon (Northwest); and the 13th Annual Tennessee-Kentucky Wildland Fire Academy in Bell Buckle, Tennessee. He also taught in Boise, Idaho (Great Basin) and Missoula, Montana (Northern Rockies) in February.

This training required for all Type 1 prescribed fire burn bosses and for long term fire analysts.

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arrowFERA Welcomes Maureen Hyzer as Program Manager
Maureen Hyzer was recently named as the Program Manager for the Pacific Northwest Research Station’s Threat Characterization and Management (TCM) program. She came to the PNW Station from her job as deputy regional forester for the U.S. Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Region in Portland Oregon, and is now located in Wenatchee, Washington. FERA is one of four research teams in the TCM program.

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arrowThe Climate-Wildfire-Air Quality System: Interactions and Feedbacks Across Spatial and Temporal Scales

Future climate change and its effects on social and ecological systems present challenges for preserving local and regional air quality, which are valued ecosystem services. Because climate change is expected to increase total area burned by wildfire and wildfires affect air quality, there is a need to define and study climate, wildfire, and air quality as one system to anticipate changes to these services.

This paper, by the Univeristy of Washington's Natasha Stavros, FERA’s Don McKenzie, and AirFire's Sim Larkin, reviewed interactions and feedbacks acting across space and time within the climate–wildfire–air quality system, providing a foundation for integrated modeling and for assessing the ecological and social impacts of this system and its broader ecological, social, and scientific implications.

It has been published in WIREs Climate Change.

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arrowClimate Change Vulnerability and Adaptation in the North Cascades Region, Washington

The North Cascadia Adaptation Partnership (NCAP) is a science-management partnership that worked with numerous stakeholders over 2 years to identify climate change issues relevant to resource management in the North Cascades and to find solutions that will facilitate the transition of the diverse ecosystems of this region into a warmer climate. The NCAP provided education, conducted a climate change vulnerability assessment, and developed adaptation options for federal agencies that manage 2.4 million hectares in north-central Washington.
Former FERA team members Dave Peterson and Crystal Raymond wrote this report along with National Park Service science advisor Regina Rochefort.

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arrowClimate, Fire Size, and Biophysical Setting Control Fire Severity and Spatial Pattern in the Northern Cascade Range, USA

Warmer and drier climate over the past few decades has brought larger fire sizes and increased annual area burned in forested ecosystems of western North America. As warming continues, fires may also increase in severity and produce larger contiguous patches of severely burned areas. University of Washington partner Alina Cansler and and FERA’s Don McKenzie used remotely sensed burn-severity data from 125 fires in the northern Cascade Range of Washington to explore relationships between fire size, severity, and the spatial pattern of severity. They found that if fire sizes increase in a warming climate, changes in the extent, severity, and spatial pattern of fire regimes are likely to be most pronounced in higher-severity fire regimes with less complex topography and more continuous fuels.

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arrowThe Climate–Wildfire–Air Quality System: Interactions and Feedbacks across Spatial and Temporal Scales

Because climate change is expected to increase total area burned by wildfire and wildfires affect air quality, which is regulated, there is a need to define and study climate, wildfire, and air quality as one system. This paper, written by the University of Washington’s Natasha Stavros with support from FERA’s Don McKenzie, was published as an Advanced Review in WIREs. It reviews interactions and feedbacks acting across space and time within the climate–wildfire–air quality system, providing a foundation for integrated modeling and for assessing the ecological and social impacts of this system.

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