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Estimating Wildland Fire Rate of Spread in a Spatially Nonuniform Environment

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Abstract:

Estimating rate of fire spread is a key element in planning for effective fire control. Land managers use the Rothermel spread model, but the model assumptions are violated when fuel, weather, and topography are nonuniform. This paper compares three averaging techniques--arithmetic mean of spread rates, spread based on mean fuel conditions, and harmonic mean of spread rates--used to estimate the effective rate-of-spread in heterogeneous environments. For particular ranges of the independent variables of the spread model, there is a well-defined ordering of the averages-a consequence of the convexity of the spread function. The harmonic mean of spread rates along the burn path is offered as an appropriate estimator of fire spread rate in a nonuniform field. Forest Sci. 31:21-29.

Keywords: Fire spread; Jensen's inequality; fire behavior; harmonic mean; surface area-to-volume ratio

Document Type: Journal Article

Affiliations: Research Meteorologist, USDA Forest Service, Forest Fire Laboratory, 4955 Canyon Crest Drive, Riverside, CA 92507

Publication date: March 1, 1985

More about this publication?
  • Forest Science is a peer-reviewed journal publishing fundamental and applied research that explores all aspects of natural and social sciences as they apply to the function and management of the forested ecosystems of the world. Topics include silviculture, forest management, biometrics, economics, entomology & pathology, fire & fuels management, forest ecology, genetics & tree improvement, geospatial technologies, harvesting & utilization, landscape ecology, operations research, forest policy, physiology, recreation, social sciences, soils & hydrology, and wildlife management.
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