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Exploring fire response to high wind speeds: fire rate of spread, energy release and flame residence time from fires burned in pine needle beds under winds up to 27 m s−1

Author(s): Bret W. Butler, Steve Quarles, Christine Standohar-Alfano, Murray Morrison, Daniel M. Jimenez, Paul Sopko, Cyle E. Wold, Larry S. Bradshaw, Loren Atwood, Justin Landon, Joseph J. O'Brien, Benjamin Hornsby, Natalie S. Wagenbrenner, Wesley G. Page
Year Published: 2020
Description:

The relationship between wildland fire spread rate and wind has been a topic of study for over a century, but few laboratory studies report measurements in controlled winds exceeding 5 m s−1. In this study, measurements of fire rate of spread, flame residence time and energy release are reported for fires burning under controlled atmospheric conditions in shallow beds of pine needles subject to winds ranging from 0 to 27 m s−1 (measured 5 m above ground level). The data suggested that under constant flow conditions when winds are less than 10 m s−1, fire rate of spread increases linearly at a rate of ~3% of the wind speed, which generally agrees with other laboratory-based models. When wind speed exceeds 10 m s−1, the fire rate of spread response to wind remains linear but with a much stronger dependence, spreading at a rate of ~13% of the wind speed. Radiative and convective heating correlated directly to wind speed, with radiant heating increasing approximately three-fold as much as convective heating over the range of winds explored. The data suggested that residence time is inversely related to wind speed and appeared to approach a lower limit of ~20 s as wind exceeded 15 m s−1. Average flame residence time over the range of wind speeds was nominally 26 s.

Citation: Butler, Bret W.; Quarles, Steve; Standohar-Alfano, Christine; Morrison, Murray; Jimenez, Daniel M.; Sopko, Paul; Wold, Cyle E.; Bradshaw, Larry S.; Atwood, Loren; Landon, Justin; O'Brien, Joseph J.; Hornsby, Benjamin S.; Wagenbrenner, Natalie S.; Page, Wesley G. 2020. Exploring fire response to high wind speeds: fire rate of spread, energy release and flame residence time from fires burned in pine needle beds under winds up to 27 m s−1. International Journal of Wildland Fire 29(1):81-92. https://doi.org/10.1071/WF18216
Topic(s): Fire Behavior, Fire Prediction, Weather
Ecosystem(s): None
Document Type: Book or Chapter or Journal Article
NRFSN number: 20664
FRAMES RCS number: 60620
Record updated: Feb 4, 2020