Wildland fires have an irreplaceable role in sustaining many of our forests, shrublands and grasslands. They can be used as controlled burns or occur as free-burning wildfires, but can also be dangerous and destructive to fauna, human communities and natural resources. Through scientific understanding of their behavior, we can develop the tools to reliably use and manage fires across landscapes in ways that are compatible with the constraints of modern society while benefiting the ecosystems.
The science of wildland fire is incomplete, however. Even the simplest fire behaviors – how fast they spread, how long they burn and how large they get – arise from a dynamical system of physical processes interacting in unexplored ways with heterogeneous biological, ecological and meteorological factors across many scales of time and space. The physics of heat transfer, combustion and ignition, for example, operate in all fires at millimeter and millisecond scales but wildfires can become conflagrations that burn for months and exceed millions of hectares.
Wildland Fire Behaviour: Dynamics, Principles and Processes examines what is known and unknown about wildfire behaviors. The authors introduce fire as a dynamical system along with traditional steady-state concepts. They then break down the system into its primary physical components, describe how they depend upon environmental factors, and explore system dynamics by constructing and exercising a nonlinear model. The limits of modelling and knowledge are discussed throughout but emphasized by review of large fire behaviors. Advancing knowledge of fire behaviors will require a multidisciplinary approach and rely on quality measurements from experimental research, as covered in the final chapters.
- Approaches wildland fire behavior as the product of a dynamical system rather than as a steady-state property of fuels, topography and weather
- Introduces and applies the physical principles of heat transfer, combustion and ignition to the wildland fire context
- Explores dynamical fire behaviors using a simplified model of wildfire spread
- Surveys the state of knowledge of large wildfire behavior
- Summarizes methods for studying fire behaviors at laboratory and field-scales