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STANDFIRE: a prototype 3-D fuels and fire modeling platform for fuel treatment analysis

Date: December 8, 2016
Presenter(s): Russell A. Parsons

Across the country, hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent, and tens of millions of acres of fuels have been treated with the intention of altering fire behavior, either to mitigate threats to firefighters and communities, or to maintain or restore healthy ecosystems. While some case studies have shown positive results, many questions remain about how effective fuel treatments are, how long they remain effective, and under what conditions they will work. Because real world fuel treatments are only actually tested when faced with a fire, modeling plays a key role in evaluating the potential effectiveness of fuel treatments. However, current systems used for this purpose use fairly simple fire modeling approaches that are poorly equipped to address either the natural heterogeneity found in wildland fuel environments or fuel changes that arise as a result of fuel treatments. This lack of detail in how fuels, and their interactions with fire, are represented, significantly limits our ability to robustly assess fuel treatments. Fixing this problem is not easy, as it requires substantial changes in numerous aspects of how we model fuels and fire. It also necessitates a change in perspective, stepping back from the broader landscape view that we commonly consider, and focusing more on the more fundamental question of how fuel changes in a treated stand change fire behavior in that location. With clear understanding of how fuel treatments affect treated stands, we will have a stronger basis for considering the effects of fuel treatments at landscape scales. In this talk, we describe one step towards a better understanding: a prototype research platform for fuel and fire modeling, called STANDFIRE. STANDFIRE extends the capabilities of a stand-scale forest model, FFE-FVS, linking it to dynamic 3D fire models to calculate both fire behavior and effects. This development provides, for the first time, a process by which fuel treatments can be examined in spatially explicit detail, opening the door to many new ways of thinking about fuels, fire and treatments. Although fully functional, STANDFIRE is not envisioned as a finished product, but rather, as the first step in a collaborative path towards a new paradigm in stand scale fuel and fire modeling. Toward that end, STANDFIRE has been built with a modular design that should permit the incorporation of new science knowledge as it becomes available, as well as for the inclusion of STANDFIRE within larger systems. 

Topic(s): Fire Behavior, Fire Prediction, Fuel Treatments & Effects, Fuels
Ecosystem(s): None
Type: Webinar
NRFSN number: 14872
Record updated: May 24, 2018