A wildfire-relevant climatology of the convective environment of the United States
Document Type: Journal Article
Author(s): Brian E. Potter; Matthew A. Anaya
Publication Year: 2015

Cataloging Information

  • air temperature
  • climatology
  • convection
  • energy
  • fire management
  • fire size
  • forest management
  • instability
  • moisture
  • plume
  • statistical analysis
  • wildfires
Record Maintained By:
Record Last Modified: June 1, 2018
FRAMES Record Number: 19421
Tall Timbers Record Number: 31419
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.


Convective instability can influence the behaviour of large wildfires. Because wildfires modify the temperature and moisture of air in their plumes, instability calculations using ambient conditions may not accurately represent convective potential for some fire plumes. This study used the North American Regional Reanalysis to develop a climatology of the convective environment specifically tied to large fire events. The climatology is based on the period 1979-2009 and includes ambient convective available potential energy (CAPE) as well as values when surface air is warmed by 0.5, 1.0 or 2.0 K or moistened by 0.5, 1.0 or 2.0 g kg-1. Results for the 2.0 K and 2.0 g kg-1 modifications are presented. The results reveal spatial and seasonal patterns of convective sensitivity to added heat or moisture. The patterns suggest that use of ambient CAPE to estimate the potential plume growth of a large wildfire may underestimate that potential in heat- or moisture-sensitive regions.

Online Link(s):
Potter, Brian E.; Anaya, Matthew A. 2015. A wildfire-relevant climatology of the convective environment of the United States. International Journal of Wildland Fire 24(2):267-275.