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Evaluation and optimization of fuel treatment effectiveness with an integrated experimental/modeling approach - Final Report to the Joint Fire Science Program

Author(s): Nick Skowronski, Albert Simeoni, Kenneth L. Clark, William E. Mell, Rory Hadden
Year Published: 2016

The effectiveness of a hazardous fuel reduction treatment must take into account both the physical change on fuel loading and structure and the effect that this change may have on wildland fire behavior. We first took a remote sensing and field measurement approach to quantify the effects of an aggressive fuel treatment program on fuel structure and loading. We then implemented laboratory and field campaigns designed to parameterize and benchmark the Wildland Fire Dynamics Simulator (WFDS), and conducted simulations aimed at eventually evaluating how changes in fuel loading and structure influence fire behavior. Findings from this research highlight: 1) the additional benefit in fuels reduction resulting from repeated fuel treatments vs. single prescribed fire operations in the under- to mid-canopy, 2) Forest floor consumption is predictable using only pre-fire loadings while canopy fuel consumption is much more dynamic, 3) Pitch pine live fuel moisture content, seasonality, and cohort age interact to result in variable needle flammability though the year, 4) Simulations with WFDS indicate that fuel moisture content and the choice of canopy drag coefficient had the most significant effects on model prediction, and 5) While WFDS can simulate moderate to high intensity fires, recreating low intensity fires with reduced fuel loading requires further refinement of the model.

Citation: Skowronski, Nicholas S.; Simeoni, Albert; Clark, Kenneth L.; Mell, William E.; Hadden, Rory M. 2016. Evaluation and optimization of fuel treatment effectiveness with an integrated experimental/modeling approach. Joint Fire Science Project 12-1-03-11. Morgantown, WV: USDA Forest Service, Northern Research Station. 24 p.
Topic(s): Fire Behavior, Simulation Modeling, Fuels, Fuel Treatments & Effects, Mechanical treatments, Prescribed Fire-use treatments
Ecosystem(s): None
Document Type: Technical Report or White Paper
NRFSN number: 17048
FRAMES RCS number: 22805
Record updated: Jul 6, 2018