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Crown fire behavior characteristics and prediction in conifer forests: A state of knowledge synthesis


The National Wildfire Coordinating Group (NWCG) glossary indicates that extreme fire behavior involves “a level of fire behavior characteristics that ordinarily precludes methods of direct control action. One or more of the following is usually involved: high rate of spread, prolific crowning and/or spotting, presence of fire whirls, strong convective column. Predictability is difficult because such fires often exercise some degree of influence on their environment and behave erratically, sometimes dangerously.”  The focus of the project is to synthesize available information on crown fire behavior related to conifer forests (e.g., the onset of crowning, type of crown fire and the associated spread rate and fireline intensity, convection column development, spotting, fire-induced vortices). The synthesis will be global in nature and is intended for multiple audiences ranging from the general public to college students to fire and land managers to university professors). The synthesis will include published peer-review articles, non-refereed publications, survey of operational experiences from fire and land managers, and data and information, including video footage, obtained during wildfire monitoring by the USDA Forest Service’s Adaptive Management Services Enterprise Team Fire Behavior Assessment Team.

Journal Publications

  • Models to predict the moisture content of lodgepole pine foliage during the red stage of mountain pine beetle attack. (PDF)
  • Using modeled surface and crown fire behavior characteristics to evaluate fuel treatment effectiveness: a caution (PDF)
  • Crown fire potential in lodgepole pine forests during the red stage of mountain pine beetle attack (PDF)
  • Tables for estimating canopy fuel characteristics from stand variables in four Interior West conifer forest types (PDF)
  • Foliar moisture content variations in lodgepole pine over the diurnal cycle during the red stage of mountain pine beetle attack (PDF)
  • Wildfire’s resistance to control in mountain pine beetle-attacked lodgepole pine forests (PDF)
  • Assessing the effect of foliar moisture on the spread rate of crown fires (PDF)
  • Limitations on the accuracy of model predictions of wildland fire behavior: a state-of-the-knowledge overview (PDF)
  • Uncertainty associated with model predictions of surface and crown fire rates of spread (PDF)
  • Are the applications of wildland fire behavior models getting ahead of their evaluation again? (PDF)
  • A mathematical model for predicting the maximum potential spotting distance from a crown fire (PDF)
  • Modelling the impacts of surface and crown fire behavior on serotinous cone opening in jack pine and lodgepole pine forests (PDF)
  • Graphical aids for visualizing Byram’s fireline intensity in relation to flame length and crown scorch height (PDF)
  • Fuels and fire behavior dynamics in bark-beetle attacked forests in western North America and implications for fire management (PDF)
  • Interdependencies between flame length and fireline intensity in predicting crown fire initiation and crown scorch height (PDF)
  • Evaluating regression model estimates of canopy fuel stratum characteristics in four crown fire-prone fuel types in western North America (PDF)
  • Comment on "Estimating canopy fuel characteristics in five conifer stands in the western United States using tree and stand measurements" (PDF)

Presentations

Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center Monthly Webinar Series, May 7, 2015

  • Crown fire behavior in conifer forests (YouTube)

VII Conference on Forest Fire Research, November 14-10, 2014, Coimbra, Portugal

  • Uncertainty in Model Predictions of Wildland Fire Rate of Spread (Paper)

Large Wildland Fires: Social, Political & Ecological Effects Conference, May 19-23, 2014, Missoula, Montana

  • Effects of Bark Beetle Attack on Canopy Fuel Flammability and Crown Fire Potential in Lodgepole Pine and Engelmann Spruce Forests (Paper)
  • Error Associated with Model Predictions of Wildland Fire Rate of Spread (Extended abstract)
  • Practical Tools for Assessing Potential Crown Fire Behavior and Canopy Fuel Characteristics (Extended abstract)

The 4th Fire Behavior and Fuels Conference, February 18 -22, 2013, Raleigh, North Carolina.

  • Workshop: Crown Fire Behavior in Conifer Forests (Agenda & Presentation)
  • Synthesizing Knowledge on Crown Fire Behavior in Conifer Forests: We Could Use Your Help! (Abstract & Poster)

The 5th International Fire Ecology and Management Congress, December 3-7, 2012, Portland, Oregon.

  • The JFSP Crown Fire Behavior Synthesis Project Wants Your Input! (Poster)

The 12th International Wildland Fire Safety Summit, October 25-26, 2012, Sydney, Australia.

The 2nd Pacific Northwest Fire Behavior Workshop, January 17-20, 2012, Vancouver, Washington.

Interior West Fire Ecology Conference: Challenges & Opportunities in a Changing World, November 14-17, 2011, Snowbird, Utah.

International Conference on Fire Behavior and Risk: Focus on Wildland Urban Interfaces, October 4-6, 2011, Alghero, Italy

  • Crown fires in conifer forests of the world: Do you have something to contribute or would like to know about something? (Abstract, Paper & Poster)

Wildfire2011, The 5th International Wildland Fire Conference, May 9-13, 2011 - Sun City, South Africa

  • Use of fire behavior models to support silvicultural and fuel management decision making in industrial pine plantations (Abstract)
  • Crown fires in conifer forests of the world: Do you have something to contribute or would like to know about something? (Abstract & Poster)

11th International Wildland Fire Safety Summit, April 4-8, 2011, Missoula, MT

International Association of Wildland Fire, 3rd Fire Behavior and Fuels Conference, October 25-29, 2010, Spokane, WA

  • Introducing the Canopy Fuel Stratum Characteristic Calculator (Paper & Presentation)
  • Towards a Crown Fire Synthesis: What Would You Like to Know and What Might You Be Able to Contribute? (Paper & Presentation)

VI International Conference on Forest Fire Research, November 13-14, 2010, Coimbra, Portugal

  • The effect of pruning on crown fire behavior in a calabrian pine plantation, northeastern Turkey (Abstract)

VI Short Course on Fire Behavior, November 13-14, 2010, Coimbra, Portugal -- held at the VI International Conference on Forest Fire Research

Highlights

Collaborators:

Dr. Martin E. Alexander, Wild Rose Fire Behavior, Leduc County, Alberta, Canada

Products:

1. Synthesis publications on crown fire dynamics in conifer forests

2. Special issue of Fire Management Today

3. Final report to JFSP

4. The Science and Art of Wildland Fire Behavior Prediction in Fire on Earth: An Introduction

JFSP logo

This work was partially funded by the Joint Fire Science Program - 09-S-03-1

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