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
    Author(s): Brian E. Potter; Jaime R. Hernandez
    Date: 2017
    Source: International Journal of Wildland Fire. 26(8): 685-692.
    Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)
    Station: Pacific Northwest Research Station
    PDF: Download Publication  (1.0 MB)


    Sudden wind shifts caused by atmospheric gust fronts can lead to firefighter entrapments and fatalities. In this study, we describe the physical processes involved in the related phenomena of convective downdrafts, gust fronts and downbursts. We focus on the dominant process, evaporative cooling in a dry surface layer, as characterised by the measure known as downdraft maximum available potential energy (DMAPE). We present a climatological analysis of DMAPE for the coterminous United States, developed from the Climate Forecast System Reanalysis data for the period 1979–2008. Diurnal and seasonal patterns are described. We conclude with a discussion of the implications and limitations of the analysis and DMAPE as an indicator of gust front strength or downburst occurrence.

    Publication Notes

    • Visit PNW's Publication Request Page to request a hard copy of this publication.
    • 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.


    Potter, Brian E.; Hernandez, Jaime R. 2017. Downdraft outflows: climatological potential to influence fire behaviour. International Journal of Wildland Fire. 26(8): 685-692.


    Google Scholar


    DMAPE, downburst, downdraft maximum available potential energy, wind shift.

    Related Search

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