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Alaska Fire Modeling Guides & Products


Fuel Moisture, Seasonal Severity and Fire Growth Analysis in the US Fire Behavior Analysis Tools: Using Fire Weather Index (FWI) Codes and Indices as Guides in Alaska by Robert Ziel, May 2017

This guide offers recommendations for using Canadian Forest Fire Danger Rating System (CFFDRS) fuel moisture codes and fire behavior indices from the Fire Weather Index (FWI) system to provide objective guidance for initial settings for many analysis inputs to WFDSS and IFTDSS. The FWI system has been formally calibrated for northern boreal ecosystems and effectively identifies significant thresholds for the Alaska landscapes as well as important trends in changing fire growth potential. PDF, 4.2 mb.

See also the May 2017 FMAC webinar recording and documents here.


Modeling Fire Growth Potential by Emphasizing Significant Growth Events:  Characterizing a Climatology of Fire Growth Days in Alaska's Boreal Forest

Robert Ziel, Jane Wolken, Thomas St. Clair and Marsha Henderson.  This paper is from a presentation at the May 2015 American Meteorological Society meeting in Minneapolis.  The authors demonstrate the utility of using significant thresholds found in the Canadian Forest Fire Weather Index (FWI) codes and indices (Van Wagner, 1987) to better predict when active fire spread events occur, and use of MODIS hotspot data in evaluating these models.

Modeling Fire Growth Potential (pdf, 1.6 MB; 2015)

Dr. Jane Wolken, ofJaneWolken.png University of Alaska-Fairbanks, Scenarios Network for Alaska Planning, summarized the history and current use of the Canadian Forest Fire Danger Rating system in a Summary Report at the request of the Alaska Wildfire Coordinating Group. The report reviews 8 topics for which the Alaska Interagency Fire Community wanted to evaluate the ‘state of knowledge’:
1)    Overwintering stations: pros and cons
2)    Fuel moisture measurements and comparisons
3)    Adjustment of mid- season indices based on fuel moisture measurements
4)    Whether data trends or raw values are more important for fire behavior prediction
5)    Impacts of using solar noon vs. non-solar noon observations
6)    Effects of errors in precipitation reporting
7)    Analysis of field data from Alaska
8)    Justification for thresholds in fire danger rating charts
Jane reviewed more than 60 documents for this report and provides a preliminary summary of the most relevant resources,including peer-reviewed journal publications, government technical reports, conference proceedings, results from workshop/conference presentations, and personal communications from individuals in the local and international wildfire community.


ZielPoster-thumb.PNGPoster: Expanding the Use of Weather Forecast Products

This poster reviews current assessment products on the AICC Predictive Service Web page (like forecasts, lightning, and imagery) and examines some other tools and sources of data that Alaska fire managers might be able to use to improve fire weather forecasts.

Expanding the use of weather forecast products for fire management decision-makers (Ziel & Branson, 2014)  (pdf, 46 MB)


Alaska Field Guide For CFFDRS Fire Weather Index (FWI) System

This field guide is designed to give users a brief overview of the CFFDRS Fire Weather Index System, handy conversion tables, and instructions for calculating fuel moisture codes (FFMC, DMC, and DC), fire behavior indexes (ISI and BUI) and the Fire Weather Index (FWI) from the field.

AK Field Guide for CFFDRS Fire Weather Index (FWI) System  (pdf, 3.2 MB; 2015)


Alaska Field Guide for CFFDRS Fire Behavior Prediction (FBP) System

This document can be used to guide learning users through the fire behavior assessment process from the fireline and field office locations and can also provide important details on fire behavior. Worksheets, definitions, fuel model charts, and fire behavior tables are included.

AK Field Guide for CFFDRS Fire Behavior Prediction (FBP) System  (pdf, 4.2 MB; 2015)

CHreport.jpg2007 Caribou Hills Fire: Fire Behavior Analysis and Custom Fuel Model Development for the Kenai Peninsula by Wade W. Wahrenbrock

This 2009 research paper documents fire behavior during the 2007 Caribou Hills Fire in areas affected by spruce bark beetle. This burn event provided a basis for analyzing rates of fire travel across the landscape and intensity levels. FARSITE was used to develop 3 new custom models so as to forecast probable characteristics of future fire episodes in heavy and light “jackstraw” beetle-kill spruce fuel complexes (model 21 and model 22) and post-logging grass fuel beds mixed with residual slash debris (model 23).

2007 Caribou Hills Fire: Fire Behavior Analysis and Custom Fuel Model Development for the Kenai Peninsula by Wade W. Wahrenbrock (2009: pdf, 1.1 MB)


Getting Started in Fire Behavior Modeling

The Alaska Fire Modeling and Analysis Committee developed this 2 page guide with resources and recommendations for those new to the wildland fire decision-making process.

Getting Started in Fire Behavior Modeling (2014; pdf, 516 kB)


Fuel Model Guide to Alaska Vegetation

This guidebook contains fuels and fire behavior information and vegetation characteristics for Alaska. Each fuel type (taken from 4th level Viereck classification names) is associated with up to three illustrative photos, the most appropriate fuel models, the primary carrier of fire, fire behavior notes, vegetation characteristics, individual 4th-level Viereck classes, and fuel types with similar characteristics.  This document also contains a crosswalk from vegetation classes to various fuel models.

A draft revision is available for your input as of Spring 2016. Contact Lisa Saperstein for more information.

2008 Fuel Model Guide to Alaska Vegetation  (pdf, 6.9 MB)

2008 Fuel Model Crosswalk  (pdf, 37 KB)

DRAFT Revised Fuel Model Guide (2016, pdf, 21 mb)


Alaska Interagency Protocols for Fire Behavior Requests in WFDSS

These protocols were developed in order to have a statewide standard for requesting fire behavior analyses on wildland fires in Alaska and a process for prioritization of the requests as well as for ordering a fire behavior specialist to complete the analysis. It is not intended to give direction on when to request or how to develop inputs or to run the models. Qualifications for the Fire Behavior Specialist Role are agency specific.

Alaska Interagency Protocols for Fire Behavior Requests in WFDSS (2013)(pdf, 143 KB)



FSPro Analysis in Alaska: A Users Guide

FSPro (Fire Spread Probability) is a fire modeling system that calculates the probability of fire spread from a fire perimeter or ignition point for a specified time period. This document is intended to be a user's guide for FSPro analysis in Alaska. It is not intended to be a cookbook of ingredients to be added to FSPro but rather, a starting point for analysis. This summary includes working guidelines and calibration techniques used in Alaska from 2008 through 2011 along with information gathered from the Help Menu in WFDSS, materials from S-495, documents written by analysts for Alaska, and published papers.

FSPro Analysis in Alaska: A Users Guide (Version 1.1, March 2012)  (pdf, 3.4 MB)



LANDFIRE Fuels Data Acquisition, Critique, Modification, Maintenance, and Model Calibration

With the advent of LANDFIRE fuels layers, an increasing number of specialists are using the data in a variety of fire modeling systems. However, a comprehensive guide on acquiring, critiquing, and editing (ACE) geospatial fuels data does not exist. This paper provides guidance on ACE as well as on assembling a geospatial fuels team, model calibration, and maintaining geospatial data and documentation. The paper concludes with direction and discussion on data maintenance, documentation, and complexities of a national fuels dataset for field application.

LANDFIRE Fuels Data Acquisition, Critique, Modification, Maintenance, and Model Calibration  (2009; pdf, 7.4 MB)



Fuel Model Comparison Chart

This tool allows users to look at fire behavior characteristics (such as rate of spread, fireline intensity, flame length, heat per unit area, and wind adjustment factor) for multiple fuel types on the same graph. Other factors such as moisture content, understory vegetation cover, and percent tree cover and be adjusted.  This chart was developed by Joe Scott.

Fuel Model Comparison Chart  (Excel, 1.5 MB)


Modeling Spot Fires - U.S. Modeling System Comparisons for Practitioners  (October 2010)

This short document compares modeling inputs, spotting processes, outputs, and limitations/assumptions for several spatial and non-spatial fire behavior models including FlamMap, Short Term Fire Behavior (STFB), FARSITE, Near Term Fire Behavior (NTFB), FSPro, Spot Distance Nomograms, and BehavePlus.  This document was created by Tonya Opperman.

Modeling Spot Fires - U.S. Modeling System Comparison for Practitioners  (10/2010; pdf, 7.4 MB)


Fire Ending Event Workshop

The purpose of this workshop was to: 1) Develop long-term data sets for fire slowing/ending events probabilities; 2) Develop prescriptions statewide that constitutes a fire slowing event and/or turning point value when looking at long duration fires and large fire spread; 3) Document assumptions and this process progresses; 4) Use information in the 2008 fire season to refine values to assist managers in stage 2 & 3; and 5) Refine prescriptions & assumptions in the fall after summer validation.

Fire Ending Event Workshop (AWFCG, 2008)  (pdf, 4.7 MB)