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Individual Highlight

High Resolution Weather for Fire Risk Assessment

Photo of Snapshot : High speed computing has opened the door to quantifying fire risk through numerous fire simulations under different weather/vegetation/ignition scenarios. FS-Pro and FlamMap are two examples of computer applications that fire specialists now use to determine the likely fire behavior for given fire environments. Of the environmental variables that affect fire behavior, weather is arguably the most unpredictable. Research meteorologists at the Pacific Southwest Research Station in Riverside, California are using high resolution weather models to inform the fire model of the fine-scale weather dynamics that drive a fire.

Principal Investigators(s) :
Fujioka, Francis M. 
Research Station : Pacific Southwest Research Station (PSW)
Year : 2011
Highlight ID : 360


In practice, current fire model runs typically use weather data from a remote automatic weather station (RAWS). Numerous RAWS have been deployed among the nation's forests and wildlands, expressly for the purpose of determining daily fire danger. However, fire danger assessment operates at a much coarser spatial/temporal scale than fire behavior modeling (10s of kilometers vs. meter scale, daily vs. hourly frequency). The high resolution weather models used by PSW produce gridded weather fields for the FARSITE fire modeling system at 1-4 kilometer intervals and hourly time steps, for an area measuring 10s of kilometers on each side. The models simulate weather variability owing to mountains, large water bodies, land cover characteristics, large-scale and upper atmosphere weather patterns, and more. PSW scientists and their partners have developed these models over time especially for fire danger and fire behavior prediction.

Forest Service Partners

External Partners

  • National Weather Service, National Center for Environmental PredictionScripps Institution of Oceanography, Experimental Climate Prediction CenterUniversity of Hawaii, Department of MeteorologyUC Santa Barbara, Earth Research InstituteNational Center for Atmospheric ResearchHawaii Division of Forestry and WildlifePacific Disaster CenterNational Weather Service, Honolulu Forecast OfficeIrvine Ranch Conservancy

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