Crown Fire Behavior Characteristics and Prediction in Conifer Forests: A State of Knowledge Synthesis

The National Wildfire Coordinating Group (NWCG) glossary indicates that extreme fire behavior involves "a level of fire behavior characteristics that ordinarily precludes methods of direct control action. One or more of the following is usually involved: high rate of spread, prolific crowning and/or spotting, presence of fire whirls, strong convective column. Predictability is difficult because such fires often exercise some degree of influence on their environment and behave erratically, sometimes dangerously." The focus of the project is to synthesize available information on crown fire behavior related to conifer forests (e.g., the onset of crowning, type of crown fire and the associated spread rate and fireline intensity, convection column development, spotting, fire-induced vortices). The synthesis will be global in nature and is intended for multiple audiences ranging from the general public to college students to fire and land managers to university professors). The synthesis will include published peer-review articles, non-refereed publications, survey of operational experiences from fire and land managers, and data and information, including video footage, obtained during wildfire monitoring by the USDA Forest Service’s Adaptive Management Services Enterprise Team Fire Behavior Assessment Team.

Journal Publications


Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center Monthly Webinar Series, May 7, 2015

VII Conference on Forest Fire Research, November 14-10, 2014, Coimbra, Portugal

Large Wildland Fires: Social, Political & Ecological Effects Conference, May 19-23, 2014, Missoula, Montana

The 4th Fire Behavior and Fuels Conference, February 18 -22, 2013, Raleigh, North Carolina.

The 5th International Fire Ecology and Management Congress, December 3-7, 2012, Portland, Oregon.

The 12th International Wildland Fire Safety Summit, October 25-26, 2012, Sydney, Australia.

The 2nd Pacific Northwest Fire Behavior Workshop, January 17-20, 2012, Vancouver, Washington.

Interior West Fire Ecology Conference: Challenges & Opportunities in a Changing World, November 14-17, 2011, Snowbird, Utah.

International Conference on Fire Behavior and Risk: Focus on Wildland Urban Interfaces, October 4-6, 2011, Alghero, Italy

Wildfire2011, The 5th International Wildland Fire Conference, May 9-13, 2011 - Sun City, South Africa

11th International Wildland Fire Safety Summit, April 4-8, 2011, Missoula, MT

International Association of Wildland Fire, 3rd Fire Behavior and Fuels Conference, October 25-29, 2010, Spokane, WA

VI International Conference on Forest Fire Research, November 13-14, 2010, Coimbra, Portugal

VI Short Course on Fire Behavior, November 13-14, 2010, Coimbra, Portugal -- held at the VI International Conference on Forest Fire Research


Martin E. Alexander
Wild Rose Fire Behaviour
curriculum vitae (pdf)

Miguel G. Cruz
CSIRO Bushfire Dynamics & Applications

Nicole M. Vaillant
USDA Forest Service

David L. Peterson
USDA Forest Service, retired



  1. Synthesis publications on crown fire dynamics in conifer forests
  2. Special issue of Fire Management Today
  3. Final report to JFSP
  4. The Science and Art of Wildland Fire Behavior Prediction in Fire on Earth: An Introduction (Part 4 of "Fire on Earth: An Introduction")
JFSP logo

This work was partially funded by the Joint Fire Science Program (Project Number 09-S-03-1)