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Role of Horizontal Eddy Diffusivity within the Canopy on Fire Spread

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Bebieva, Yana ; Oliveto, Julia ; Quaife, Bryan ; Skowronski, Nicholas S.; Heilman, Warren E.; Speer, Kevin

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Wind profile observations are used to estimate turbulent mixing in the atmospheric boundary layer from 1 m up to 300 m height in two locations of pine forests characteristic of the southeast US region, and to 30 m height at one location in the northeast. Basic turbulence characteristics of the boundary layers above and within the canopy were measured near prescribed fires for time periods spanning the burns. Together with theoretical models for the mean horizontal velocity and empirical relations between mean flow and variance, we derive the lateral diffusivity using Taylor's frozen turbulence hypothesis in the thin surface-fuel layer. This parameter is used in a simple 1D model to predict the spread of surface fires in different wind conditions. Initial assessments of sensitivity of the fire spread rates to the lateral diffusivity are made. The lateral diffusivity with and without fire-induced wind is estimated and associated fire spread rates are explored. Our results support the conceptual framework that eddy dynamics in the fuel layer is set by larger eddies developed in the canopy layer aloft. The presence of fire modifies the wind, hence spread rate, depending on the fire intensity.


canopy boundary layer; atmosphere; horizontal eddy diffusivity; fuel layer


Bebieva, Yana; Oliveto, Julia; Quaife, Bryan; Skowronski, Nicholas S.; Heilman, Warren E.; Speer, Kevin. 2020. Role of Horizontal Eddy Diffusivity within the Canopy on Fire Spread. Atmosphere. 11(6): 672. 17 p.

Last updated on: June 29, 2020