Behind the flaming zone: Predicting woody fuel consumption in eucalypt forest fires in southern Australia

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Fire Behaviour
TitleBehind the flaming zone: Predicting woody fuel consumption in eucalypt forest fires in southern Australia
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2011
AuthorsHollis, JJ, Matthews, S, Anderson, WR, Cruz, MG, Burrows, ND
JournalForest Ecology and Management
Pagination2049 - 2067
Date Published6/2011
AbstractPre-fire woody fuel (diameter > 0.6 cm) structure and its consumption by fire were measured at experimental/prescribed fires and high intensity wildfires in eucalypt forests in southern Australia in order to better understand and model the dynamics of woody fuel consumption. Two approaches were used in model development: (1) a fire or plot level analysis, based on a dataset which includes the proportion of the pre-fire woody fuel load consumed at each fire; and (2) a stage level analysis, based on a dataset where woody fuel consumption was measured at a woody fuel particle level (i.e. pre-fire and post-fire diameter). For the plot level analysis a generalised linear model (GLM) approach identified the Forest Fire Danger Index (FFDI) as the best predictor of the proportion of woody fuel consumed, with an R2 of 0.58 and mean absolute error of 10%. The stage level analysis recognised the various combustion stages through which a burning woody particle would pass, but failed to develop an accurate model that predicted the ignition, partial and full consumption of woody fuels based on fuel, fire behaviour and environmental variables. Analysis showed that consumption of woody fuel particles is highly variable and that variation in fire behaviour potentially has a greater impact on woody fuel consumption, than does variation in fuel characteristics (e.g. state of decay, fuel suspension and interactions with other fuel particles). The FFDI GLM provides forest and fire managers with a tool to manage woody fuel consumption objectives and may assist fire managers with forecasting post-frontal fire behaviour. The FFDI GLM may also assist forest and fire managers to better meet land management goals and to comply with air quality and emission targets.
Short TitleForest Ecology and Management
Refereed DesignationRefereed