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 2013

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,

arrowPeterson and McKenzie Represent Fire Research at National Council for Science and the Environment Annual Meeting

FERA scientists Dave Peterson and Don McKenzie represented Forest Service fire research at the annual meeting of the National Council for Science and the Environment in Washington DC.  

In a symposium entitled "Wildland fire in a changing climate", Dave and Don presented recent research and ideas for discussion on (1) estimates of changes in fire regimes in a warming climate, (2) why those estimates need improvement by considering climate-vegetation- fire interactions, (3) prospects for fire management in a warming climate, and (4) principles for adapting to climate change and new fire regimes on public lands.  The conference theme was "Disasters and Environment", but the FERA scientists emphasized that fire as a disaster is just one dimension of many in the domain of understanding wildland fires.


arrowPresentations and Posters at the 4th Fire Behavior and Fuels Conference in Raleigh, NC

This year, FERA focuses on early results from the RxCADRE fire experiment conducted in Florida this past November. A special session, moderated by Roger Ottmar and Kevin Hiers, will include 15 papers on this significant collaborative research effort.  Other lines of research will be presented by Clint Wright, Ruddy Mell, and University of Washington cooperators Susan Prichard and Jim Cronan.
FERA will have an exhibit booth set up for two days during the conference, with the main purpose of finding good homes for  hundreds of printed copies of natural fuels photo series. Stop by and visit with Bob Vihnanek down in the exhibit hall.


arrowFuel Treatment Effects on Tree Mortality Following Wildfire in Dry Mixed Conifer Forests, Washington State, USA

The International Journal of Wildland Fire recently published an evaluation of the effectiveness of prefire fuel treatments three years after the Tripod Complex fires in northern Washington State. University of Washington collaborators Prichard and Kennedy provide further evidence supporting the effectiveness of thinning and prescribed burning on mitigating postfire tree mortality.


arrowNumerical Study of the Interaction Between a Head Fire and a Backfire Propagating in Grassland

FERA's Ruddy Mell, along with two French colleagues, conducted a numerical simulation of the interaction of two fires, a head fire and back fire, that propagate toward each other. This purpose was to model the operational practice of backfiring. This is used to extinguish the head fire front by igniting a backfire which spreads upwind into the main fire line. Before the merging of the two fire fronts, a sudden increase of the heat release rate was observed. This can potentially represent a safety problem for people in charge of a backfire operation. The journal Fire Safety Science published this as part a proceedings.


arrowRx410 Smoke Management Lessons

Roger Ottmar, Susan Prichard, and Clint Wright have been on the training circuit, teaching courses on smoke management techniques (Rx-410) held in the Pacific Northwest, Rocky Mountain, southwest, and upper Midwest regions of the United States. Students are exposed to the newest methods of estimating the amount of smoke, and its timing, from prescribed burns. The Fuel Characteristic Classification System (FCCS), Consume, and Fire Emission Production Simulator (FEPS) are used for estimating the type and amount of fuel consumed and the emissions to be from any individual prescribed fire.


arrowFERA Participates in Meetings with Fire and Fuels Planners in Pacific Northwest

In the days leading up to the December 2012 International Fire Ecology and Management Congress in Portland, Oregon, members of the FERA team participated in adjunct meetings convened by the fuels teams of the U.S. Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Region; and the U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management. Attendees were provided with brief updates of current research in that field, and scientists were able to learn more about the issues of concern from managers. 


arrowNorthern California Prescribed Fire Council

Susan Prichard, one of FERA’s cooperators at the University of Washington, attended the November 2012 meeting of the Northern California Prescribed Fire Council in South Lake Tahoe, CA. She demonstrated the various tools that FERA develops to help fire managers plan for fire behavior and smoke effects in two 1-hour sessions.

arrowNorthwest Fire Science Consortium Inaugurates Web Seminar Series

FERA scientists Ruddy Mell and Morris Johnson are pleased to inaugurate the Northwest Fire Science Consortium’s webinar series late this spring with a focus on various aspects of the wildland-urban interface. The March FERA newsletter will contain more specifics about these interactive presentations. This consortium, one of many sponsored by the Joint Fire Science Program, exists to accelerate the awareness, understanding, and adoption of wildland fire science.  


arrowThe North Cascadia Adaptation Partnership: A Science-Management Collaboration for Responding to Climate Change

Federal land managers in the North Cascades have worked together to take a broad look at the potential effects of climate change, and ways that they could collaboratively respond. Led by authors Raymond, Peterson, and Rochefort, this proven process is described in the journal Sustainability.


arrowRadionuclide Activity Concentrations in Forest Fuels at the Savannah River Site

A study was undertaken at the United States Department of Energy's Savannah River Site to investigate radionuclide activity concentrations in litter and duff. Litter and duff can often be the major fuels consumed during prescribed burns and have potential to release radiological contaminants into the environment. Samples from 97 locations were collected and analyzed for radionuclide activity. FERA's Roger Ottmar was one of the authors.


arrowShort Paper “Adaptation: Planning for Climate Change and Its Effects on Federal Lands”
To aid land managers in tackling the effects of climate change on natural resources under their care, Forest Service scientists conducted three case studies on national forests and adjacent national parks, and captured the successful aspects of the process as it emerged. They summarized the scientific foundation for climate change adaptation and made the information accessible to land managers by creating a climate change adaptation guidebook and web portal. Case study teams discovered that collaboration among scientists and land managers is crucial to adaptation planning and that management plans must be targeted to the particular ecosystem conditions and management priorities of each region. FERA's Dave Peterson coauthored this with Dr. Michael Furniss of the PNW Station.




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

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