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Individual Highlight

Statistical Models Improve Predictions of Fuel Consumption and Emissions During Prescribed Fires

Photo of A technician ignites a controlled burn in pine flatwoods of the Apalachicola National Forest.  Clint Wright, USDA Forest ServiceA technician ignites a controlled burn in pine flatwoods of the Apalachicola National Forest. Clint Wright, USDA Forest ServiceSnapshot : The scientists developed ecosystem- and season-specific statistical models for predicting fuel consumption from easily measured variables that improve the fuel, fire, and air quality manager's ability to accurately predict fuel consumption and emissions during prescribed fires.

Principal Investigators(s) :
Wright, Clinton 
Research Location : interior West; southern Coastal Plain
Research Station : Pacific Northwest Research Station (PNW)
Year : 2013
Highlight ID : 517

Summary

Despite the many ecological benefits of prescribed fire, the resulting smoke can degrade air quality, potentially impair visibility and negatively affect human health and safety. Burning shrubs, such as sagebrush in the interior West and understory species associated with pine forest in the southeast, can emit large amounts of smoke. These emissions are regulated by the federal Clean Air Act, so emissions measurements or estimates are necessary to manage air quality impacts. This regulation means accurate estimates of fuel consumption in shrub-dominated ecosystems during prescribed fires are critical for managing terrestrial and atmospheric fire effects. Forest Service scientists at the Pacific Northwest Research Station conducted field measurements of prefire fuel characteristics, day-of-burn environmental conditions, and fuel consumption in shrub-dominated sites in the interior West's sagebrush landscape and the southern Coastal Plain's pine flatwoods. Ecosystem- and season-specific statistical models for predicting fuel consumption from easily measured variables were developed that improve the fuel, fire, and air quality manager's ability to accurately predict fuel consumption and emissions during prescribed fires. These models are being integrated into CONSUME, a software application used for estimating fuel consumption and emissions for smoke management planning and regulation.

Forest Service Partners

External Partners

  • Apalachicola National Forest
  • Department of Defense Eglin Air Force Base
  • Florida State Parks Pumpkin Hill Preserve State Park
  • National Park Service, Lava Beds National Monument
  • The Nature Conservancy
  • USDI Bureau of Land Management,Cody (WY), Rawlins (WY), Burns (OR), Dillon (MT), and Lewistown (MT) Field Offices
  • USFWS Sheldon-Hart Mountain National Wildlife Refuge Complex and St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge

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