You are here

Live fuels and fire behavior research

January, 2010 to April, 2018

Historically, research on fuel ignition and fire behavior characteristics has focused on dead fuels that are easily manipulated in the field and laboratory. However, live fuels represents a large part of the wildland fuel complex and little is known about the key factors that drive their inter- and intra-species variations in flammability.

Scientists at the Missoula Fire Sciences Laboratory, in partnership with various regional and global partners, are continually developing and refining studies that examine the complex relationships between fuel moisture, chemistry, physical and thermal characteristics that can influence live wildland fuel ignition, spread rates and intensities. Our work spans a range of methods from small-scale benchtop experiments in the laboratory to large-scale field prescribed burns. Additionally, in partnership with researchers at Los Alamos National Laboratories, we leverage computational fluid dynamics-based fire behavior simulators to create controlled numerical experiments to explore these complex interactions.

This work is leading to entirely new conceptual models that describe these complex linkages in ways that can be directly integrated into fire danger and fire behavior modeling systems.

For more information, please visit the complete project page at



Jolly, William M. ; Hintz, John ; Linn, Rodman L. ; Kropp, Rachael C. ; Conrad, Elliot T. ; Parsons, Russell A. ; Winterkamp, Judith , 2016

National Strategic Program Areas: 
Wildland Fire and Fuels
National Priority Research Areas: 
Forest Disturbances
RMRS Science Program Areas: 
Fire, Fuel and Smoke
RMRS Strategic Priorities: 
Disturbance Ecology; Fire Sciences
Project Contact: 

Rod Linn - Los Alamos National Laboratory

Research Staff:
Elliot Conrad - Missoula Fire Lab Research Staff