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Roger D. Ottmar

Roger D. Ottmar
Research Forester
Threat Characterization and Management
400 N 34th St., Suite 201
Seattle, WA 98103-8600
United States
Current Research

I lead efforts to develop (1) a natural fuels photo series for the United States, Mexico, and Brazil; (2) the Consume model, which predicts fuel consumption and emission production by combustion phase for forested and non-forested fuel types across North America; and (3) the Fuel Characteristic Classification System, which characterizes fuelbeds for the United States and the world. I consult on the assessment of wildland firefighter exposure to smoke and the associated health risks and also lead the Prescribed Fire Combustion and Atmospheric Research Experiment (RxCADRE), a group of individual researchers and research teams from across the United States which is instrumenting and collecting data that will complement each area of research in the pre-, active, and postfire burning periods of prescribed burns.

Past Research

I have been involved with fuels, fire, and smoke-related research for over 35. In my early career, I lead efforts to modifiy and improve the the natural fuels photo series and develop models for predicting fuel consumption and emissions for smoke management planning. Later, I become interested in firefighters and their exposure to smoke both on the fireline and in camp and in developing a system to better characertize fuelbeds for fire planning.

Research Interest

Fuelbed characteristics, fuel moisture, fuel consumption, smoke management, firefighter exposure to smoke, and technology transfer of science.

Why This Research Is Important
Whether it is prediction of fire behavior variables such as flamelength and rate of spread, fire effects such as smoke, air quality impacts, carbon release, tree mortality, or mineral soil exposure, a comprehensive characterization of fuelbeds and consumption of the fuelbed components by combustion stage are required. In addition, firefighter exposure to smoke and the resulting short-term and long-term effects are not well understood. Further research is needed if appropriate firefighter risk management strategies are to be developed.
  • University of Idaho, Honorary Doctorate, Natural Resources, 2008
  • University of Washington, M.S., Atmospheric Science, 1980
  • University of Washington, B.S., Atmospheric Science, 1977
  • Eastern Washington State College, B.A., Secondary Education/Geology, 1973
Professional Experience
  • Research Forester,  Us Forest Service Pacific Northwest Research Station,  1980 - Current
    I started my career with the Forest Service in northern Idaho as a trail crew foreman in 1970. I received my BS at the University of Washington in Atmospheric Science in 1977 and was hired as a forestry technician for the Pacific Northwest Research Station in 1978. In 1980 I received my MS in Forest Management and was converted to a Research Forester. Since 1980, I have been leading research studies in fuels, fuel combustion, and smoke management and transfering the knowledge in those subjects for the PNW Research Station.
Professional Organizations
  • Member,  American Meteorological Society,  1980 - Current
Awards & Recognition
  • Honorary Degree of Doctor of Natural Resources, University of Idaho, 2008
    For providing critical knowledge on fire effects, smoke production and atmospheric pollution and transfering that knowledge.
  • Chief's Award--Technology Transfer, 2006
    In recognition for teaching smoke management courses, leading fire management workshops, and designing, developing, and distributing, supporting, and transferring applications.
Featured Publications
Other Publications
Research Highlights

Forest Service research supports Washington State’s Forest Resiliency Burning Pilot Project

Year: 2017
Forest Service researchers characterized fuel before and after prescribed burns in eastern Washington State and assessed post-fire tree mortality. The state is using these finding to develop a forest resilience burning program.

Know Thy Fuel: Advances in Wildland Fuel Mapping and Smoke Projections

Year: 2019
Wildland fuels are challenging to map across a landscape, but accurate estimates of fuel biomass and consumption during planned or unplanned wildland fire are critical for modeling fire behavior and smoke emissions. A new field guide provides the latest information on gathering data about fuels and ...

Advances in 3D Fuels Characterization for Wildland Fire Management

Year: 2020
Managers rely on models of wildland fire to make critical decisions about fuels management, but existing models can be limited by simplistic data inputs that do not reflect the true complexity of wildland fuels. The U.S. USDA Forest Service, University of Washington, and Tall Timbers Research Statio...

Fire Combustion Experiment Produces Big Data Set to Validate a New Generation of Fire Models

Year: 2013
Three operational scale fires (about 494-988 acres) and six fine scale (about 328-656 foot blocks) replicate units at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, were ignited in fall 2012, allowing researchers to conduct simultaneous experiments on fuels, meteorology, fire behavior, heat balance, smoke, and fire...

Testing Fuel Treatments in Boreal Forests

Year: 2012
A first-of-its-kind study tests the effects of fuel treatment on fuel consumption and fire behavior in Alaska's boreal forest

Rethinking how we measure forest fuels for advancing wildland fire science and management

Year: 2018
Land managers depend on quality fire research to advance their understanding of wildland fire behavior. Cutting-edge fire behavior models output fire spread, fire intensity, and smoke plumes in three-dimensions, but forest fuels, which are used as model inputs, are not measured in similar dimensions...

The Fire and Smoke Model Evaluation Experiment: Improving Fire and Smoke Forecasting, Protecting Public Health

Year: 2019
With researchers and wildland fire crews in position, weather and smoke monitoring equipment activated, and camera carrying drones launched, air crew ignited what would become a prescribed stand-replacement fire in the Fishlake National Forest, Utah. The event on June 20, 2019, was the latest in a s...