Reliable predictions of fuel consumption are critical in the eastern United States (US), where prescribed burning is frequently applied to forests and air quality is of increasing concern. CONSUME and the First Order Fire Effects Model (FOFEM), predictive models developed to estimate fuel consumption and emissions from wildland fires, have not been systematically evaluated for application in the eastern US using the same validation data set. In this study, we compiled a fuel consumption data set from 54 operational prescribed fires (43 pine and 11 mixed hardwood sites) to assess each model's uncertainties and application limits. Regions of indifference between measured and predicted values by fuel category and forest type represent the potential error that modelers could incur in estimating fuel consumption by category. Overall, FOFEM predictions have narrower regions of indifference than CONSUME and suggest better correspondence between measured and predicted consumption. However, both models offer reliable predictions of live fuel (shrubs and herbaceous vegetation) and 1 h fine fuels. Results suggest that CONSUME and FOFEM can be improved in their predictive capability for woody fuel, litter, and duff consumption for eastern US forests. Because of their high biomass and potential smoke management problems, refining estimates of litter and duff consumption is of particular importance.
Prichard, Susan J.; Karau, Eva C.; Ottmar, Roger D.; Kennedy, Maureen C.; Cronan, James B.; Wright, Clinton S.; Keane, Robert E. 2014. Evaluation of the CONSUME and FOFEM fuel consumption models in pine and mixed hardwood forests of the eastern United States. Canadian Journal of Forest Research. 44(7): 784-795.