Skip to Main Content
U.S. Forest Service
Caring for the land and serving people

United States Department of Agriculture

Home > Search > Publication Information

  1. Share via EmailShare on FacebookShare on LinkedInShare on Twitter
    Dislike this pubLike this pub


    Models of wildland fire-induced stem heating and tissue necrosis require accurate estimates of inward heat flux at the bark surface. Thermocouple probes or heat flux sensors placed at a stem surface do not mimic the thermal response of tree bark to flames.We show that data from thin thermocouple probes inserted just below the bark can be used, by means of a one-dimensional inverse heat conduction method, to estimate net heat flux (inward minus outward heat flow) and temperature at the bark surface. Further, we estimate outward heat flux from emitted water vapor and bark surface re-radiation. Estimates of surface heat flux and temperature made by the inverse method confirm that surface-mounted heat flux sensors and thermocouple probes overestimate surface heat flux and temperature. As a demonstration of the utility of the method, we characterized uneven stem heating, due to leeward, flame-driven vortices, in a prescribed surface fire. Advantages of using an inverse method include lower cost, ease of multipoint measurements and negligible effects on the target stem. Drawbacks of the simple inverse model described herein include inability to estimate heat flux in very moist bark and uncertainty in estimates when extensive charring occurs.

    Publication Notes

    • Check the Northern Research Station web site to request a printed copy of this publication.
    • Our on-line publications are scanned and captured using Adobe Acrobat.
    • During the capture process some typographical errors may occur.
    • Please contact Sharon Hobrla, if you notice any errors which make this publication unusable.
    • We recommend that you also print this page and attach it to the printout of the article, to retain the full citation information.
    • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.


    Bova, Anthony S.; Dickinson, Matthew B. 2009. An inverse method to estimate stem surface heat flux in wildland fires. International Journal of Wildland Fire. 18: 711-721.


    heat transfer, mass flux, modeling

    Related Search

    XML: View XML
Show More
Show Fewer
Jump to Top of Page