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    Author(s): Janice L. Coen; Marques Cameron; John Michalakes; Edward G. Patton; Philip J. RigganKara M. Yedinak
    Date: 2012
    Source: Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology. 52: 16-38
    Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)
    PDF: Download Publication  (4.47 MB)


    A wildland fire behavior module (WRF-Fire) was integrated into the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) public domain numerical weather prediction model. The fire module is a surface fire behavior model that is two-way coupled with the atmospheric model. Near-surface winds from the atmospheric model are interpolated to a finer fire grid and used, with fuel properties and local terrain gradients, to determine the fire spread rate and direction. Fuel consumption releases sensible and latent heat fluxes into the atmospheric model lowest layers, driving boundary layer circulations. The atmospheric model, configured in turbulence-resolving large eddy simulation mode, was used to explore the sensitivity of simulated fire characteristics such as perimeter shape, fire intensity, and spread rate to external factors known to influence fires such as fuel characteristics and wind speed and to explain how these external parameters affect the overall fire properties. Using theoretical environmental vertical profiles, a suite of experiments using conditions typical of the daytime convective boundary layer varied these external parameters around a control experiment. Results showed that simulated fires evolved into the expected bowed shape because of fire-atmosphere feedbacks that control airflow in and near fires. The coupled model reproduced expected differences in fire shapes and heading fire intensity between grass, shrub, and forest litter fuel types, the expected narrow, rapid spread in higher wind speeds, and moderate inhibition of fire spread in higher fuel moistures. The effects of fuel load were more complex: higher fuel loads increased the heat flux and fire plume strength, and thus inferred fire effects, but had limited impact on spread rate.

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    Coen, Janice L.; Cameron, Marques; Michalakes, John; Patton, Edward G.; Riggan, Philip J.; Yedinak, Kara M. 2012. WRF-Fire: coupled weather-wildland fire modeling with the weather research and forecasting model. Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology. 51: 16-38.


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