Skip to Main Content
On the need for a theory of wildland fire spreadAuthor(s): Mark A. Finney; Jack D. Cohen; Sara S. McAllister; W. Matt Jolly
Source: International Journal of Wildland Fire. 22: 25-36.
Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)
Station: Rocky Mountain Research Station
View PDF (412.46 KB)
DescriptionWe explore the basis of understanding wildland fire behaviour with the intention of stimulating curiosity and promoting fundamental investigations of fire spread problems that persist even in the presence of tremendous modelling advances. Internationally, many fire models have been developed based on a variety of assumptions and expressions for the fundamental heat transfer and combustion processes. The diversity of these assumptions raises the question as to whether the absence of a sound and coherent fire spread theory is partly responsible. We explore the thesis that, without a common understanding of what processes occur and how they occur, model reliability cannot be confirmed. A theory is defined as a collection of logically connected hypotheses that provide a coherent explanation of some aspect of reality. Models implement theory for a particular purpose, including hypotheses of phenomena and practical uses, such as prediction. We emphasise the need for theory and demonstrate the difference between theory and modelling. Increasingly sophisticated fire management requires modelling capabilities well beyond the fundamental basis of current models. These capabilities can only be met with fundamental fire behaviour research. Furthermore, possibilities as well as limitations for modelling may not be known or knowable without first having the theory.
- You may send email to email@example.com to request a hard copy of this publication.
- (Please specify exactly which publication you are requesting and your mailing address.)
- 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.
CitationFinney, Mark A.; Cohen, Jack D.; McAllister, Sara S.; Jolly, W. Matt. 2012. On the need for a theory of wildland fire spread. International Journal of Wildland Fire. International Journal of Wildland Fire. 22: 25-36.
Keywordsfire behaviour, fuel ignition, heat transfer, live fuels
- High-resolution observations of combustion in heterogeneous surface fuels
- An examination of fuel particle heating during fire spread
- Linking complex forest fuel structure and fire behavior at fine scales
XML: View XML