Data Evaluation or Data Analysis for Fire Modeling
Accurate estimation of a wildland fire’s progression is critical for the development of robust fire spread prediction models and their validation. Two methods commonly used to determine spread rate are the cumulative spread rate, calculated as the total distance travelled by a fire divided by the total time of travel, and the interval spread rate, calculated using the minimum time and maximum distance between observations. This paper analyses the differences between these two methods using experimental fires conducted in dry eucalypt forest leaf litter in either a combustion wind tunnel or large (4 ha) field sites. Fires were ignited from a point, 400-mm and 800-mm line ignitions in the wind tunnel, and point and 120-m line ignitions in the field experiments. A total of 312 and 397 observations of distance travelled and time taken were made during the laboratory and field experiments respectively, along with associated environmental variables. Mean spread rates and standard deviations were significantly greater for the interval method than those of the cumulative method for all the laboratory data and the field point ignition fires, and the difference between them varied with distance and time since ignition. These findings have important implications for fire spread and acceleration model development.