Examination of the wind speed limit function in the Rothermel surface fire spread model
Document Type: Journal Article
Author(s): Patricia L. Andrews; Miguel G. Cruz; Richard C. Rothermel
Publication Year: 2013

Cataloging Information

  • Australia
  • fire management
  • fire models
  • fire spread
  • fuel models
  • fuel moisture
  • grass fire
  • grassfire
  • grasslands
  • midflame windspeed
  • range management
  • reaction intensity
  • Rothermel's fire behavior model
  • statistical analysis
  • Tasmania
  • wildfires
  • wind
  • International
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Record Last Modified: June 1, 2018
FRAMES Record Number: 16000
Tall Timbers Record Number: 29385
TTRS Location Status: In-file
TTRS Call Number: Journals - I
TTRS Abstract Status: Okay, Fair use, Reproduced by permission

This bibliographic record was either created or modified by the Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy and is provided without charge to promote research and education in Fire Ecology. The E.V. Komarek Fire Ecology Database is the intellectual property of the Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy.


The Rothermel surface fire spread model includes a wind speed limit, above which predicted rate of spread is constant. Complete derivation of the wind limit as a function of reaction intensity is given, along with an alternate result based on a changed assumption. Evidence indicates that both the original and the revised wind limits are too restrictive. Wind limit is based in part on data collected on the 7 February 1967 Tasmanian grassland fires. A reanalysis of the data indicates that these fires might not have been spreading in fully cured continuous grasslands, as assumed. In addition, more recent grassfire data do not support the wind speed limit. The authors recommend that, in place of the current wind limit, rate of spread be limited to effective midflame wind speed. The Rothermel model is the foundation of many wildland fire modelling systems. Imposition of the wind limit can significantly affect results and potentially influence fire and fuel management decisions.

Online Link(s):
Andrews, Patricia L.; Cruz, Miguel G.; Rothermel, Richard C. 2013. Examination of the wind speed limit function in the Rothermel surface fire spread model. International Journal of Wildland Fire 22(7):959-969.