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 September 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,

arrowPrairie Burns in Western Washington in Advance Fire Behavior Model Evaluation

The prairies around Olympia, Washington offered a local opportunity for the Fire and Environmental Research Applications Team (FERA) to study fire behavior in simple fuelbed, one of the steps necessary for validation of fire behavior and fuel consumption models.

In mid-August, a “black line” was burned around three 150 x 150 m plots, making it possible to burn on a dry September day and to collect a rare set of fire behavior, fuels, weather, and air quality data. FERA’s Ruddy Mell stood 85-foot above the burns in a boom lift with his infrared and digital cameras, and below were fire behavior packages, anemometers, digital video cameras, and weather station. Data gathered are in the process of being evaluated.

This past year, FERA’s Roger Ottmar successfully competed for funding of field crew and technical staff salaries on this significant project. It was provided   from the Forest Service Pacific Northwest Research Station. He also organized the entire operation that included researchers from the Missoula Fire Lab and Pacific Wildland Fire Science Lab, firefighters from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, and a prescribed burn crew from the nonprofit Center for Natural Lands Management.

Every partner in this project contributed very significant amounts of time, materials, and equipment for about two dozen people involved in the burn.

This research leverages a Joint Fire Science Program project, and is likely to lead to further collaborative research with other Department of Defense agencies. It provided an opportunity to develop and test data collection methods in advance of the Fall 2012 RxCADRE burns, and this data is expected to improve the Wildland-Urban Interface Fire Dynamics Simulator (WFDS).

arrowSeason of Burning in the South

FERA completed field data collection for an investigation into the effects of season-of-burning on fuel dynamics in Southern pine forests.  Eighteen locations burned by prescribed fires in 2009-10 (nine during the dormant season and nine during the growing season) have been remeasured annually to assess species composition changes, fuel accumulation rates, and live vegetation regrowth.  Study sites were located in northern Florida in flatwoods vegetation types at Eglin Air Force Base, St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge, and the Apalachicola National Forest.  Data analysis is ongoing with project completion expected in early 2013.

We acknowledge funding for this project under Joint Fire Science Program #09-1-02-2.

arrowFCCS Installation for Computers Running Java 7.0 or Non-Windows Operating Systems

This installation is necessary for anyone with Java 7.0 installed on their computer or does not have a Microsoft Windows operating system.  If you have a new computer and are having trouble with the normal FCCS version 2.2 windows installer, it is likely that you have Java 7.0 installed and need to use this version of FCCS.


arrowProperties Affecting the Consumption of Sound and Rotten Coarse Woody Debris in Northern Idaho: A Preliminary Investigation Using Laboratory Fires

In the International Journal of Wildland Fire, FERA's Roger Ottmar joined Josh Hyde and Alistair Smith in an evaluation of coarse woody debris, its decay, and the effect of that decay on fuel consumption. Results indicate very decayed coarse woody debris is likely to be consumed to a substantially greater degree than sound coarse woody debris given similar conditions. High consumption occurred in debris with low-density, high-lignin content and high gravimetric heat content; however, lignin content and density showed the highest correlation with consumption.

arrowFuel Variability Following Wildfire in Forests with Mixed Severity Fire Regimes, Cascade Range, USA

Measurements of post-burn fuel variability are critical for understanding the ecological significance of mixed severity fires, and help in developing restoration strategies that emulate characteristics of historical fire regimes. Results of this post-fire research conducted on the eastern slopes of Washington's Cascade Range indicate that fire severity influences immediate post-burn canopy fuels and potential fire behavior but does not influence dead and down surface fuel loading for the three fires studied. FERA's Dave Peterson joined the University of Washington's Jessica Hudec in writing this paper for the journal Forest Ecology and Management.

arrow2012 American Geophysical Union Meeting

Don McKenzie will be convening a special session, “Wildfires on Landscapes: Theory, Models, and Management,” at the December AGU meeting in San Francisco.

Maureen Kennedy is presenting “Integrating a Simple Stochastic Fire Spread Model with the Regional Hydro-Ecological Simulation System,” and McKenzie is coauthor on two posters:

  • Assessing Accuracy of a Probabilistic Model for Very Large Fire in the Rocky Mountains: A High Park Fire Case Study
  • Estimating Biomass Burning Emissions for Carbon Cycle Science and Resource Monitoring and Management

arrow5th International Fire Ecology and Management Congress


  • The Piled Fuels Biomass and Emissions Calculator (Wright)
  • Measuring the Effects of Slash Pile Burning and How Fire Effects Change as Piles Age (Wright)
  • Linking the Forest Vegetation Simulator and the Fuel Characteristic Classification System to Improve Fuel Quantification and Fire Behavior Predictions
  • Physical Properties of Downed Woody Debris in Mexican Ecosystems (Alvarado)
  • Fire History of the Sierra de Manantlán Biosphere Reserve in Western México (Cassell)


  • Investigating the Causes of Spatial and Temporal Variation in Burn Severity at Local and Regional Scales in the Washington Cascade Range (Cansler)
  • Evaluating Fuel Treatment Efficacy on Arizona’s Largest Wildfire (Johnson)
  • Effects of Salvage Logging and Pile-and-burn on Fuel Loading, Potential Fire Behavior, Fuel Consumption, and Emissions After a Windstorm (Johnson)
  • Effect of Burn Season on Surface Fuel Dynamics in Mesic Longleaf Pine Flatwoods in Northwest Florida (Cronan)
  • Managing Fuels in a Greenhouse World: a Framework for Adaptation (Peterson)
  • Characterizing Fuels for Fire and Fuels Management Application  in the 21st Century (Ottmar)
  • A Data Set for Fire and Smoke Model Development and Evaluation—RxCADRE Project Progress (Ottmar)

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

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