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

Logo of the Pacific Northwest Research Station

United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service.

USDA Link Forest Service Link

 

FERA Research Update July 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 http://www.fs.fed.us/pnw/fera/news/subscribe.shtml or contact Ellen Eberhardt at (541)750-7481, eeberhardt@fs.fed.us

RUDDY MELL PART OF TEAM RECOGNIZED FOR OUTSTANDING CONTRIBUTION TO FIRE SCIENCE

The International Forum of Fire Research Directors selected the Fire Dynamics Simulator (FDS) development team to receive the Sjölin Award for 2012. This international award recognizes an outstanding contribution to the science or practice of fire safety engineering and is presented to the individual or group whose efforts are primarily responsible for or traceable to the specified advance.

FERA’s Ruddy Mell was part of a team that is credited with outstanding contributions over the past number of years to advance fire engineering around the world. This team developed, maintained and extended the functionality of a software program, called the FDS (Fire Dynamics Simulator) that has become the tool of choice by both the fire research and fire engineering communities. FDS represents the most widely used computational fire engineering tool in both research and industry. Through its use and application many new insights have emerged, further extending our understanding of the behavior of fire phenomena.

Incorporated in FDS is WFDS (Wildland-Urban Interface Fire Dynamics Simulator), currently under development and testing, through a joint USFS-FERA and National Institute of Standards and Technology effort, to expand the capability of FDS into natural vegetation.

More

RESEARCH BURN AT JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD

Grasslands in a restored, natural prairie site on the military’s Joint Base Lewis-McChord, near Olympia, Washington will be the site of three research burns to characterize fuels and monitor fire behavior and fuel consumption. Three 150-m blocks have been established for the research project that will be burned in early August when the grasses have cured and stopped growing.

This burn will allow researchers to gather data for Ruddy Mell’s Wildland-Urban Fire Dynamics Simulator (WFDS); relate field sampling with LiDAR imagery; provide field data to compare with laboratory measurement; and serve as a practice run for data collection methods being developed for the RxCADRE experiment on Florida’s Eglin Air Force Base this fall. Special project funding was provided by the Pacific Northwest Research Station.

Carl Seielstad of the University of Montana and Dan Jimenez and Mark Finney of the Rocky Mountain Research Station’s Missoula Fire Laboratory will be joining FERA’s Roger Ottmar, Ruddy Mell, Bob Vihnanek, and Clint Wright.

FERA’s Mell will be collecting infrared and visible images of the fire front from the boom lift during the fire. Seielstad will simultaneously operate ground LIDAR located on an 85-foot boom lift to characterize the fuels from above while preburn fuels sampling is being done by the FERA field crew, and Jimenez will set up 10 portable wind instruments around each block to characterize the wind profile. He will also position several fire behavior packages within each block. Mark Finney will be collecting ground-level photographic imagery.

More

NASA FUNDS ADDITIONAL DEVELOPMENT OF REGIONAL FIRE EMISSIONS PRODUCTS

FERA’s Don McKenzie, in partnership with Nancy French of Michigan Tech Research Institute, successfully competed for research funding from NASA’s Carbon Monitoring System to develop regional emissions products with the Wildland Fire Emissions Information System (WFEIS). Using remote-sensing products from NASA, they will modify current fuels mapping and fuel consumption calculations in WFEIS, thereby improving the quantification of mapped fuels (biomass) across the United States and combustion in deep organic soils of Alaska.

More

QUANTIFYING FUEL TREATMENT EFFECTIVENESS ON ARIZONA'S LARGEST RECORDED WILDFIRE

FERA’s Morris Johnson began data collection to measure how effective fuel treatments were in altering fire behavior of Arizona’s largest recorded wildfire, the 2011 Wallow Fire. The fire burned 212,000 ha on the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests in eastern Arizona. Before the fire, more than 21,000 ha had been thinned to reduce wildfire hazard around several WUI communities.

The Wallow Fire burned across a large proportion of these completed treatments. It took a crew of approximately 6 individuals to install linear transects through the treated, and adjacent untreated, stands. Every 100 feet, permanent plots were installed to measure tree variables such as tree height and tree species. Woody dead fuels were measured along Brown’s transects.

Johnson used fire progression maps and fire manager interviews to identify treatment units that burned without the influence of fire suppression activities. He will be quantifying fuel treatment effectiveness by comparing burn severity, tree mortality, and crown scorch between treated stands and adjacent untreated stands. This projected has been funded by the Western Wildland Environmental Threat Assessment Center, and the Pacific Northwest Research Station.

 

 

 

 

 

WUI ASSESSMENT TOOL TESTED IN COLORADO SPRINGS NEIGHBORHOOD

The June/July 2012 Waldo Canyon Fire, in and around the community of Colorado Springs, Colorado, destroyed nearly 350 homes. This tragedy offered the opportunity to test methods of assessing specific damage structures to learn how communities can best protect themselves from such wildland-urban fires. FERA’s Bob Vihnanek and Ernesto Alvarado joined Derek McNamara of McNamara Consulting and a liaison of the Colorado Springs Fire Department to assess about 30 homes (unburned, partially burned, totally burned) with a newly-developed checklist. Developed into an iPhone app, this checklist will facilitate collection of standardized information from fire affected structures within a fire perimeter. Field measurements included structure particulars, specifically roof type, proximity of combustibles to the structure, and damage to wildland and residential vegetation. This basic assessment, called WUI 1, is aimed at standardizing post-WUI fire data collection. Texas Forest Service started using the WUI 1 in 2011. A more detailed WUI 2 assessment has also been developed to further identify structural and landscaping ignition vulnerabilities. The WUI 2 method was utilized to collected data from the Tanglewood Complex Fire in Texas in 2011.  

Alex Maranghides of the National Institute of Standards and Technology is the principal investigator on this research in part funded by the Joint Fire Science Program Project #11-1-3-29. Data collected will also be of use in development of the WFDS computer mode of wildland-urban interface fires.

More

 

CARBON DYNAMICS OF FORESTS IN WASHINGTON: U.S. PROJECTIONS FOR 21ST CENTURY BASED ON CLIMATE-DRIVEN CHANGES IN FIRE REGIMES

FERA's Crystal Raymond and Don McKenzie consider the implications on carbon storage and emissions of future fire regimes under different climate change scenarios. In forests of the Washington Cascades, increases in area burned shift a greater proportion of forests to younger age classes, decreasing carbon stores but increasing annual carbon uptake. More area burned increases carbon emissions from live and dead biomass and increases carbon stores in the form of dead biomass. Forests in the western Washington Cascades are projected to have the greatest percentage increases in consumption of biomass between now and the 2040s as compared with forests in the drier eastern portion of the state. The journal Ecological Applications published this in July of 2012.

More

 

NEW JOINT FIRE SCIENCE PROGRAM PROJECTS FOCUS ON MODEL DEVELOPMENT

This past April, the Joint Fire Science Program awarded funding for new projects, five of which involve scientists from the FERA team. The first two are directed by the team, and in the last two FERA plays a minor role.

 

MCKENZIE LEADS REVIEW OF SMOKE CONSEQUENCES OF GLOBAL FIRE EMISSION SCENARIOS

The Joint Fire Science Program recently funded a proposal from FERA’s Don McKenzie, “Smoke Consequences of IPCC's Scenarios Projected Climate and Ecosystem Changes in the US: Review Paper” to coordinate a review of the fire and smoke implications of new global-change scenarios adopted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The review will provide a roadmap for local- and regional-scale modeling of wildfires and smoke emissions and dispersion.

 

FUEL TREATMENT PAPER ONE OF THE MOST WIDELY DOWNLOADED OF 2011

The Canadian Journal of Forest Research lists FERA’s paper, “Simulating Fuel Treatment Effects of the Western United States: Testing the Principles of a Fire-Safe Forest,” as the 10th most downloaded article of 2011. The Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station found that it was the most-downloaded of all the Station’s publication in FY11 – a whopping 470 times from that site alone!

FERA’s Morris Johnson, along with Maureen Kennedy (University of Washington) and David L. Peterson, ran the Fire and Fuels Extension to the Forest Vegetation Simulator (FFE-FVS) using various fuel treatment prescriptions to simulate the effects of thinning and surface fuel treatments in dry forest in 11 western states. Their simulations suggested that the effectiveness of fuel treatments in the West depends on thinning intensity, with the most intense treatments they studied, which leave 50 to 100 trees per acre, being more effective in reducing the threat of crown fires than less-intense treatments.

More

 

TUNE INTO DON MCKENZIE'S PODCAST "SCARRED FOR LIFE"

Don McKenzie became FERA’s podcasting pioneer as he worked with Yasmeen Sands from the Pacific Northwest Research Station to produce a 10-minute podcast on fire and climate change in the inland West. He talks about how his work with fire-scarred trees can reveal spatial patterns and controls of historical fires across the landscape and how these respond to changes in climate.

More

   

U.S. Forest Service - PNW- FERA
Last Modified: Monday, 16 December 2013 at 14:18:40 CST


USDA logo which links to the department's national site. Forest Service logo which links to the agency's national site.