Observations of a crowning wildfire modulated by a strong coupling with the atmosphere [abstract]
Document Type: Conference Paper
Author(s): L. F. Radke; T. L. Clark
Publication Year: 2000

Cataloging Information

  • boreal forests
  • crown fires
  • fire management
  • fuel management
  • fuel moisture
  • heat
  • light
  • photography
  • remote sensing
  • sloping terrain
  • wilderness fire management
  • wildfires
  • wind
Record Maintained By:
Record Last Modified: June 1, 2018
FRAMES Record Number: 38205
Tall Timbers Record Number: 12765
TTRS Location Status: In-file
TTRS Call Number: Fire File (Fire Conference 2000)
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.


A Crown Fire is observed with an airborne IR imager moving swiftly up a modest slope in mixed fuels. Light winds helped propel the blaze during the Frost Fire Experiment north of Fairbanks, Alaska in June 1999. A vigorous convective column capped with a pyrocumulus cloud forms over the rapidly moving fire. The symmetrical inrush air feeding the fire is seen to overcome the environmental winds and the effects of slope. The Crown Fire then abruptly subsides. Back winded, the fire ebbs lower as it finds no additional fuel and the heat released from the burned and burning areas no longer support a convective column. After a pause of minutes the back draft apparently falters and the Crown Fire springs phoenix-like back to vigor and continues up-slope until it reaches a demarcation in fuels and slope where it halts, this time permanently. This example of the role of strong coupling of the fire dynamics to the atmosphere where fire induced winds, overwhelm the mesoscale surroundings, emphasizes both the critical importance of such effects in understanding fire behavior. Given this fire*s brief apparent susceptibility to suppression by wetting the new fuels in the fire*s line of advance, opens a new opportunity for aerial fire fighting in combination with remote sending tools.

Radke, L. F., and T. L. Clark. 2000. Observations of a crowning wildfire modulated by a strong coupling with the atmosphere [abstract], Proceedings of Fire Conference 2000: The First National Congress on Fire Ecology, Prevention and Management, 27 November-December 1, 2000, San Diego, CA. [program volume]. University Extension, University of California Davis,Davis, CA.