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The objective of this study is to investigate the capability of a physical two-phase model to predict the ignition of crown fuels by a surface fire and then to determine the degree of crowning. The model considers the hydrodynamic aspects of the flow and accounts for the basic physicochemical processes resulting from the thermal degradation of organic matter. Turbulence, soot formation, and its impact on radiation are considered in order to improve the physical insight. Calculations have been performed to investigate the effects of crown base height and aerial fuel moisture content on the onset of crowning. Numerical results are found to be consistent with experimental observations and the widely used Canadian Fire Behavior Prediction System classification by crown fraction burned. This model may be used to extend the domain of application of semiphysical theories, e.g., Van Wagner's theory, where fuel and environmental factors are generally determined from empirical observations of previous fires. It provides a means of adjusting these factors in other fire situations without requiring additional experiments.
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Keywords: crown fire; numerical simulation; physical model; wildfire model

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Polytech'Marseille, Dept. of Mechanical Engineering, CNRS UMR 6595, Marseille, France

Publication date: June 1, 2003

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