National and Regional Fire Weather Dynamics: Improved Methods for High Resolution Forecasting of Fire Weather Indices and Smoke Transport
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Cataloging Information

  • forecasting
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Record Last Modified: December 13, 2016
FRAMES Record Number: 1180


As part of a proposed USDA Forest Service national framework for regional atmospheric modeling, as described in companion proposals from fire/atmosphere research work units in the Southern, Pacific Southwest, Pacific Northwest, and Rocky Mountain Research Stations, this North Central Research Station (NCRS) proposed research will focus on the following objectives: (1) Developing effective atmospheric mesoscale model predictions of fire-weather and fire-weather indices at the national and regional level, (2) Linking fire-weather forecast information with data obtained from the proposed Forest Inventory and Analysis' (FIA) strategic monitoring of fuel loadings and fire potentials in U.S. forests (see proposal NC-1.3) to provide improved estimates of daily wildland fire potential, and (3) Developing improved atmospheric mesoscale model predictions of smoke transport and diffusion under different prescribed and wildland fire scenarios. For objective (1), potential refinements in current fire-weather indices (e.g. Haines Index) will be explored via climatological assessments of the indices and simulations of regional fire-weather episodes. State-of-the-art atmospheric mesoscale models (e.g. MM5, RAMS, HOTMAC, UW-NMS) and computing hardware available internally or externally through consortium partners will be utilized in this effort. After testing the refined indices and assessing how well they work through fire-occurrence correlations, the refined indices will be made available for integration into operational atmospheric mesoscale forecast models (e.g. MM5, UW-NMS) that can provide forecasts out to 48 hours and possibly longer. For objective (2), daily fire-weather index forecast maps will be integrated with FIA fuel loading maps or other derived estimates of fuels loading, within a GIS framework to provide improved GIS visualization of wildland fire risk at regional and national scales. For objective (3), new smoke transport modeling techniques developed within other Forest Service modeling consortia (see proposals from SRS and PNW cited above) will be incorporated into appropriate mesoscale models for predicting smoke transport during wildland and prescribed fire episodes in the north central and northeastern U.S. Objectives (1)-(3) are designed to address the critical need for better predictive models and decision support tools for the fire management community. Both regional and national fire-weather and smoke transport research and development needs are addressed. In recognition of the need for consistency in fire-weather and smoke transport models and decision support tools for fire managers across the U.S., the models and decision support tools developed in this effort will be compatible with similar models and tools developed within other Forest Service sponsored regional consortia. Achieving objectives (1)-(3) will also provide valuable information for companion social-science-related research proposals from the NCRS that seek to assess perceptions of fire risk and the vulnerability of rural communities to wildland fire.