Estimating Wildfire Behavior and Effects


Frank A. Albini

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Full Issue

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This paper presents a brief survey of the research literature on wildfire behavior and effects and assembles formulae and graphical computation aids based on selected theoretical and empirical models. The uses of mathematical fire behavior models are discussed, and the general capabilities and limitations of currently available models are outlined. Rothermel's fire spread model is used to develop nomographs for estimating rate of spread, reaction intensity, and flame length for a variety of fuel complexes, under widely variable conditions. Factors affecting spread rate and overall shape of a fire are quantified, as well as some fire effects such as crown scorching and duff removal. Appendices give more details of the formulations presented graphically in the text, including the definitions of terms used to quantify fire behavior and effects and tables of numerical factors for converting values to different units of measurement.


This item was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.