Examination of the underlying physics in a detailed wildland fire behavior model through field-scale experimentation
Mueller, Eric Victor
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Complex computer models, built on basic physical principles, have the potential to aid in the understanding and prediction of wildland fire behavior. However, there remain significant uncertainties and assumptions in the way such models describe the fire, the vegetation, and the interaction of the two. To understand a model’s capabilities, limitations, and the improvements which are still necessary, comparison of model predictions to experimental measurement is critical. Unfortunately, collecting such measurements is particularly difficult at the large scale over which real wildland fires occur and, as a result, this happens infrequently. To address this, an opportunity was seized to collect a detailed set of measurements of fire behavior in a real forest environment. These measurements are thoroughly analyzed for the description they provide of the fire behavior. They are then used as a benchmark to test the capabilities of a particular complex model to describe such a fire and to highlight the limitations and uncertainties. As a result of this evaluation, a set of recommendations for future research, both in experiments and modeling, are offered, in order provide a coherent strategy for the future which will significantly advance these models.