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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NEWS FLASHES

New Software Combines FCCS, Consume, and FEPS

The Fuel and Fire Tools, or FFT, is now available for users to download and use for their fuels, fire, or carbon planning projects. It is a combination of older programs that have all been significantly improved, both scientifically and technically. For example, it incorporates new consumption equations built on data from the many fuel consumption studies FERA has completed during the past 10 years.

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arrowEvaluation of Past-Fire Mosaics on Subsequent Wildfire Behavior, Severity and Management Strategies

This new study will evaluate the influence of past wildfires on subsequent fire behavior, fire severity, and management responses in high-severity fire regimes in three montane forest landscapes across the inland Pacific Northwest and northern Rockies. Resarchers will analyze fire spread and severity in recent reburns of landscape burn scars, simulate predicted fire spread across landscapes, sample fire management strategies, and offer examples of strategic responses developed in the Wildland Fire Decision Support System that incorporate landscape mosaics created by past wildfires.

Principle investigators are Susan Prichard (FERA), Penny Morgan (University of Idaho), Paul Hessburg (PNW), Richy Harrod (Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest), and Bob Gray (R.W. Gray Consulting, Ltd.) This project is funded by the Joint Fire Science Project #13-1-02-30.

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Sharing Forest Service Fire Research with Subcommittee on Disaster Reduction

Roger Ottmar gave an overview of U.S. Forest Service fuel and smoke research to the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy’s Disaster Reduction Subcommittee (Wildland Fire Science and Technology Task Force) meeting in Washington D.C. this past week.  He also highlighted science transfer activities and current research gaps. His presentation, along with presentations by other Forest Service scientists, provided the task force with information to facilitate better coordination and cooperation between the Federal agencies with wildland fire management responsibilities.   

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Assessing Factors That Influences Landscape Fuels Treatment Effectiveness

FERA’s Ruddy Mell will join with Prof. Chad Hoffman at Colorado State University to increase our understanding of the mechanisms that influence the effectiveness of landscape fuel treatments. For example, model-based studies of wildland fuel treatments on landscapes have neglected the influence of fire-atmosphere coupling and near-field wind flow on fire behavior. By using a number of different fire modeling approaches, this work will characterize the influence of topography, atmospheric conditions, and fire on optimal fuel treatment design.

Funding for this project is being provided by the Joint Fire Science Program project #14-1-01-18.

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FFT Demonstrated to State of Oregon Department of Forestry

Roger Ottmar and Susan Prichard met with Nick Yonkers, meteorology manager for the Oregon State Department of Forestry to demonstrate the Fuel and Fire Tools software application—a tool that can be used to improve smoke management planning and permitting. Also discussed was a project to sample specific fuelbed components on two spring prescribed fires that generated smoke that impacted Bend, Oregon. Information from this project will help prescribed fire practitioners understand which fuelbed components are likely to cause the greatest air quality impacts and suggest approaches to mitigate their negative effects.

NEW PUBLICATIONS

arrowEvaluation of CONSUME and FOFEM Fuel Consumption Models in Pine and Mixed Hardwood Forests of the Eastern United States

Reliable predictions of fuel consumption are critical in the eastern United States (US), where prescribed burning is frequently applied to forests and air quality is of increasing concern. The predictive models CONSUME and the First Order Fire Effects Model (FOFEM), estimate fuel consumption and emissions from wildland fires.

This study in the Canadian Journal of Forest Research assessed each model’s uncertainties and application limits. Overall, FOFEM predictions have narrower regions of indifference than CONSUME and suggest better correspondence between measured and predicted consumption. Both models offer reliable predictions of live fuel, but can be improved in their predictive capability for woody fuel, litter, and duff consumption for eastern US forests.

FERA's Susan Prichard, Roger Ottmar, Maureen Kennedy, Jim Cronan, and Clint Wright joined Eva Karau and Bob Keane in this endevour. Funding was provided by the Joint Fire Science Program project #08-1-6-01.

arrowSmoke Consequences of New Wildfire Regimes Driven by Climate Change

Various lines of evidence suggest that smoke from wildfires in the future may be more intense and widespread, demanding that methods be developed to address its effects on people, ecosystems, and the atmosphere.

The authors, led by FERA's Don McKenzie, present the essential ingredients of a modeling system for projecting smoke consequences, describe each component of the system, offer suggestions for the elements of a modeling agenda, and provide some general guidelines for making choices among potential components.

Funding for this paper, published in Earth's Future, was provided by the Joint Fire Science Program project #12-S-01-2.

Paper (.html)

Webinar (YouTube)

arrowUnsupported Inferences of High-Severity Fire in Historical Dry Forests of the Western United States: Response to Williams and Baker

Reconstructions of dry western US forests in the late 19th century were used by Williams & Baker (Global Ecology and Biogeography[2012]) to infer past fire regimes with substantial moderate and high-severity burning. They concluded that present-day large, high-severity fires are not distinguishable from historical patterns.

The 18 authors of this paper, including FERA's Clint Wright, offer evidence of important errors in their study. They conclude that the preponderance of scientific evidence indicates that conservation of dry forest ecosystems in the western United States, and their ecological, social and economic value, is not consistent with a present-day disturbance regime of large, high-severity fires, especially under changing climate.

arrowFuel Treatments and Landform Modify Landscape Patterns of Burn Severity in an Extreme Fire Event

Under a rapidly warming climate, a critical management issue in semiarid forests of western North America is how to increase forest resilience to wildfire. Susan Prichard and Maureen Kennedy, FERA cooperators at the University of Washington, evaluated relationships between fuel reduction treatments and burn severity in the 2006 Tripod Complex fires in Washington State and published their research results in the journal Ecological Applications.

Funding for this paper was provided by the Joint Fire Science Program project #09-1-01-09.

arrowFuel Treatment Prescriptions Alter Spatial Patterns of Wildland Severity around the Wildland-Urban Interface During the Wallow Fire, Arizona, USA

Maureen Kennedy and Morris Johnson examine the spatial pattern of fire severity as the Wallow Fire move from wildland fuels into treated fuels. All fuel treatments demonstrated reduced fire severity before encountering homes, demonstrating that there are multiple paths to fuel treatment design around the wildland-urban interface.

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WORKSHOPS AND TRAINING

None scheduled at this time.

 

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