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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Icon of magnifying glassValidation of Fuel Consumption Models for Smoke Management Planning in the Eastern Regions of the United States

Final Report (.pdf 2 MB)
Final products

Fuel consumption is one of the most critical variables in estimating smoke production for smoke management planning in the eastern United States. Although there are fuel consumption equations contained within the national fuel consumption and emissions production tools Consume 3.0 and FOFEM, they have not been thoroughly validated.Land managers have indicated the tools overpredict fuel consumption by 50% in the eastern regions of the country.

The objective of this study is to collect a field dataset that will allow the determination of uncertainties, biases, and application limits of the consumption equations within Consume 3.0 and the First Order Fire Effects Model (FOFEM) to wildland fire in the eastern regions (northeast, northcentral, southeast) of the United States.

We propose to collect pre-fire fuel loading and fuel consumption data on a minimum of 20 prescribed burns located on public and private lands and use fixed-wing aircraft remote sensing to estimate the variability in consumption across 10 of the burn units for comparison with averages from models. We will also assemble any previously collected quality fuel consumption data for the regions to improve our validation set, and provide the entire dataset to the Smoke and Emissions Model Intercomparison Project repository.

If data prove that current consumption models are inappropriate for these regions, modifications and adjustments will be incorporated in Consume 3.0 and FOFEM with an update to each tool’s user manual, scientific documentation, and tutorial. A training workshop will be conducted within these regions for land managers. Opportunities to link this study with other efforts and acquire matching dollars will be pursued.

This project will begin in the summer of 2008 and continue through 2011.

Progress Report (September 15, 2011)

Fuel Consumption--We successfully burned, and measured the consumption of, grass, shrub, woody fuel, and forest floor fuels on 27 prescribed burns located on the Apalachicola National Forest (8), Eglin Air Force Base (5), George Washington-Jefferson National Forest (2), Daniel Boone National Forest (4), St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge (1), Pumpkin Hill Creek Preserve State Park (2), Tar Hollow State Park (2), and Mammoth Cave National Park (3). We completed data reduction and analysis and are compiling the information into a validation database.  We completed the assembly of previously-collected literature and quality fuel consumption data for the eastern region that will be added to our data set.  We have successfully compared Consume and FOFEM outputs with measured consumption data and have modified Consume using the results.

Heat Release--We deployed the WASP camera system (infrared heat release mapping) over 2 prescribed fires in eastern mixed-oak forest in Ohio (Tar Hollow State Forest), 2 prescribed fires in eastern mixed-oak forests in Kentucky (Mammoth NP), and 4 prescribed fires in longleaf pine at Eglin Air Force Base. Excellent measurements were collected of background (pre-fire) heat fluxes with no evidence of saturation for high-intensity flame fronts.


  • Fuel consumption validation dataset available for submittal to the SEMIP repository
    • Dataset [.pdf] [.xls 83 kb] [.pdf 118 kb]
    • Data Summary -- Summary of study site descriptions and location, prefire environmental variables, fuel moisture content, and both prefire loading and fuel consumption by fuelbed catagory [.pdf 55 kb]
    • Consumption Database Documentation -- Overview of additional datasets used in this research [.pdf 318 kb]
    • Consumption Database [.zip 316 kb to .mdb 1.9MB]
    • Summary of Radient Emission Spectra Data Study -- Ground-calibration datasets summarized to total ground-leaving energy from fire [.pdf 94 kb]

  • Revised Consume 3.0 and FOFEM user guide and tutorial.
  • Modified versions of Consume 3.0 and FOFEM distributed with possible modified fuel consumption models or coefficient adjustments.
  • 2 ½-day field workshop demonstrating how to use Consume 3.0 will be presented in the north central or northeast U.S.
  • Manuscript sufficient for publication in a peer reviewed journal outlet.
  • Fuel consumption validation project final report

Project Lead: Roger Ottmar

Joint Fire Science Program logo We acknowledge funding from the Joint Fire Science Program under Project JFSP 08-1-6-01.
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