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Joseph J. (Jay) Charney

Research Meteorologist
Climate, Fire, and Carbon Cycle Sciences
3101 Discovery Dr., Ste. F
Lansing, MI 48910
United States
Current Research

I study the interactions between wildland fires and the overlying atmosphere, and investigate the potential for meteorological conditions to influence fire behavior and smoke dispersion. I employ atmospheric numerical weather prediction models to assess and predict the weather conditions that could impact the evolution of a wildland fire.

Research Interest

My primary research interest involves the development of tools and diagnostics that enable fire weather forecasters and fire managers to anticipate when fire-atmosphere interactions can impact the evolution of a wildland fire. I use mesoscale numerical weather prediction models to reproduce the meteorological conditions associated with historical fires and attempt to associate changes in fire behavior with meteorological conditions at the ground and aloft.

I work with coupled fire-atmosphere models that explicitly resolve the combustion process, the impact of combustion on the atmosphere above a fire, and feedbacks to the fire from the atmosphere. I attempt to validate these models using observations of fire behavior from instrumented prescribed burns and from wildfires. The ultimate goal of this research is to develop the next generation of fire behavior and fire danger models using state-of-the-science numerical tools. The models can then be employed by fire weather forecasters and fire managers to aide in decision-making that is required to safely carry out prescribed burns and to fight wildfires.

I employ mesoscale numerical prediction models to investigate the dispersion of smoke from wildland fires.

Why This Research Is Important
This research is working toward an improved understanding of fire-atmosphere interactions that will help produce the next generation of fire-weather and fire behavior products. These products are used by fire weather meteorologists, fire managers, and smoke managers to allow them to make more informed decisions that can save lives and property and can prevent illness and respiratory distress.
  • The Pennsylvania State University, Ph.D., Meteorology, 1997
  • University of Maryland, M.S., Meteorology, 1992
  • The Pennsylvania State University, B.S., Physics, 1990
Professional Organizations
  • Southern Michigan Prescribed Fire Council,  Current
  • International Association of Wildland Fire,  Current
Featured Publications
Other Publications
Research Highlights

Fire Weather Prediction Tool Modernizes Science Behind Forecasts

Year: 2018
Fire weather forecasters need accurate and proven tools to help them anticipate when weather conditions can make wildfires dangerous for fire managers. USDA Forest Service scientists are expanding the options with the development of the Hot-Dry-Windy Index (HDW), a new fire-weather prediction tool b...

The Hot-Dry-Windy Index improves fire weather forecasting

Year: 2018
A new tool helps fire managers anticipate when wildfires could become erratic or dangerous.

The Influence of Forest Gaps on Fire-Atmosphere Interactions

Year: 2016
Model simulations have been used to examine how gaps in forest stands can affect the response of the atmosphere to low-intensity wildland fires occurring in those stands. The study provides insight into potential smoke dispersion and fire behavior during low-intensity prescribed fires in forested en...

Fireflux Experiments Improve Safety of Prescribed Burns in the New Jersey Pine Barrens

Year: 2011
Predicting the effects of smoke from low-intensity prescribed fires on local air-quality is being made easier by new tools developed by Forest Service scientists. These tools are now being validated through data collected from fuels, meteorological, and air quality monitoring networks set up near an...

Scientists Develop Wildfire Weather Climatology for the Northeastern United States

Year: 2012
Knowing where and why large wildfires have occurred in the past can help weather forecasters and fire managers predict future events with greater accuracy