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Climatology of Convective Instability: Home

Atmospheric convective instability is believed to influence wildland fire behavior. Instability allows more energetic updrafts and overall circulations associated with fires, as well as fostering greater turbulence. Both of these effects can result in more vigorous and variable fire intensity and spread. (See Potter 2012 or Werth et al. 2011 for detailed discussion.)

This atlas contains maps that show the monthly and seasonal variability in atmospheric instability, as measured by convective available potential energy, or CAPE. The data and methods used to determine the CAPE values are described in Potter and Anaya (2015).


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