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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United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service.

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FERA Research Update January 2012

This FERA Research Update is intended to provide the fire management and fire science communities with information about current research conducted by the Fire and Environmental Research Applications Team (FERA).

To subscribe, visit or contact Ellen Eberhardt at (541)750-7481,

arrowNational Forests Now Offered Guidelines on Responding to Climate Change

Resource managers at the nation’s 155 national forests now have a set of science-based guidelines to help them manage landscapes for resilience to climate change, and this guidebook is now available both electronically and in hard copy.
FERA’s Dave Peterson developed the guidelines along with counterparts from the Forest Service’s Pacific Northwest, Pacific Southwest, and Rocky Mountain Research Stations, with input from university scientists and national forest resource managers.

Press release more

Guidebook more

arrowUnderstanding the Role of Terrain and Wind Interactions on Fire Spread through Communities

FERA’s Ruddy Mell has been down in California this January setting up equipment to measure near-ground wind fields (20 ft) in a suburban community north of San Diego. This wildland-urban interface community was burned by the 2007 Witch and Guejito fires during a Santa Ana wind event and is the subject of a continuing study. Wind data will be obtained from anemometers mounted on selected light poles present in the community. The plan is to measure wind behavior during Santa Ana winds to better understand the role of terrain and wind interactions on fire spread through the community.

Data from the anemometers, combined with measurements from wind towers and SoDAR*  instruments, will be used to help validate and develop wind prediction models suitable for fire behavior modeling. In addition, the accuracy and reliability of SoDAR measurements are currently being tested by comparing them to NOAA wind measurements from a tower located near Stockton, California.

This work is supported by both National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the National Fire Plan. Collaborators include Alex Maranghides of NIST and Professor Fletcher Miller of the Mechanical Engineering Department of San Diego State University.

* SoDAR (sonic detection and ranging) systems are used to remotely measure the vertical turbulence structure and the wind profile of the lower layer of the atmosphere.


arrowStudy Compares Consume 3.0 and FOFEM in the Eastern United States

A validation study of the Consume 3.0 and FOFEM smoke consumption models for fuel types in the eastern United States is now complete. Both systems perform well in predicting shrub and herbaceous consumption in the East, but did a poor job of predicting 1-hr, 10-hr, litter, and duff consumption.

Data and the final report are available on the website, and manuscripts are in preparation. Investigators included FERA’s Roger Ottmar, Matt Dickinson of the Northern Research Station, and Elizabeth Reinhardt (formerly of the Rocky Mountain Research Station).

We acknowledge funding from the Joint Fire Science Program Project #08-1-6-01


arrowUpslope Grass Fires Help Test Fire Behavior Models
Prescribed burns planned for May 2012 on the U.S. Army’s Fort Hunter Liggett (California) will focus on freely burning grass fires as they spread upslope. Measurements of wind and fire perimeter evolution (including spread rate and fire depth) will be made to support the development and testing of fire behavior models. Grass fires offer the simplest and “cleanest” means of testing a fire model’s ability capture the influence of slope on the spread and depth of the head and flank fires at landscape scales.

This work is supported by both NIST and the National Fire Plan. FERA’s Ruddy Mell is collaborating in this effort with Alex Maranghides of NIST; the research lead is Professor Craig Clements of the Department of Meteorology, San Jose State University.


arrowU.S. National Forests Adapt to Climate Change Through Science-Management Partnerships

Examples of science-management partnerships developed on the Olympic Peninsula (Washington) and Tahoe National Forest (California) are used to show ways of planning for anticipated effects of climate change on natural resources on public lands. Published in the journal Climatic Change, FERA's Dave Peterson worked with close collaborators Jeremy Littell, Connie Millar, and Kathy O'Halloran to establish these collaborations.


arrowNewsletter Moving to Distribution Six Times a Year

Because of feedback from a recent survey of newsletter readers, and because of science workload issues, this newsletter will now be distributed every other month. Any timely news will appear on the website in the interim between newletters.

U.S. Forest Service - PNW- FERA
Last Modified: Tuesday, 25 February 2014 at 13:04:08 CST

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