Journal article Open Access

A Coupled Atmosphere-Fire Model: Role of the Convective Froude Number and Dynamic Fingering at the Fireline

Clark, Tl L.; Jenkins, Ma; Packham, Dr; Coen, Jl L.

A numerical atmospheric model is coupled with a simple dry eucalyptus forest fire model to create a wildfire simulation model. This is used to show how certain atmospheric conditions can lead to commonly observed forest fire behavior. Using short line fires, simulations show that with moderate winds, the fire line interacts with the updraft ahead of it causing the fire line to curve forward into a conical shape. Other experiments show that when ambient winds change with height, a pair of rotating updrafts at the curved fire front can touch down within the fire and break up the fire line. We also demonstrate 'dynamic fingering', in which the rotating columns near the fire front intensify to tornado strength and can result in rapid and strong increases in the fire spread rate.

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