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Project ID: 11-1-2-22

Year: 2011

Date Started: 06/01/2011

Date Completed: 09/30/2015

Title: Deriving Fundamental Statistical Shrub Fuel Models by Laser Scanning and Combustion Experimentation

Project Proposal Abstract: This project is developing methods to spatially represent shrub fuel matrices of chamise (Adenostoma fasciculatum Hook. & Arn.) and sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata Nutt.) using laser scanning, simulating fire propagation through them, and validating simulations against measurements of shrub fires in a burn chamber. It addresses shrub fuel modeling through integration of two important and related research threads: (1) Precise spatial representation of shrub fuels, and (2) behavior of fire within shrub fuel matrices. Developing models of shrub fuels as the basis for accurate and replicable inputs to a variety of fundamental and statistical sub-grid models used in complex physic-based fire spread simulations is a vital step in producing more computationally efficient, widely applicable fire models for shrub fuels. By creating inputs to sub-grid models from laser point clouds and testing them against measurements of actual fire behavior, the project aims to describe the complexity of shrub fuel beds for fire behavior modeling and provide scale integration from leaf to shrub to landscape. We exploit the measurement capacity of a terrestrial laser scanner to: (1) precisely characterize shrub fuel matrices in a laboratory setting, (2) abstract fuel elements for sub-grid fire behavior modeling, (3) model fire propagation from an herbaceous understory through shrub canopies, and (4) compare model output to measurements of fire behavior from shrubs ignited in a burn chamber. The project is based on the principle that developing dynamic fuel models for shrub lands requires tiered experiments starting with burning of individual leaves in the laboratory, followed by combustion of whole shrubs in a wind tunnel, and culminating in burning of field plots of representative fuels. Leaf experiments have provided a large initial database of combustion characteristics, whole shrub experiments have just begun (2009), with field trials predicated on knowledge gained from tests conducted at shrub-scale. Our work is consequently at whole-shrub scale within a laboratory setting, and although field experiments are beyond its scope, an important goal is to provide scale integration between the laboratory and the field. The terrestrial laser scanner is expected to provide this integration due to its ability to consistently and precisely measure fuel geometries at long ranges.

Principal Investigator: Carl A. Seielstad

Agency/Organization: University of Montana

Branch or Dept: Department of Forest Management

Other Project Collaborators




Branch or Dept

Agreements Contact

Jennifer R. Jones

Forest Service

PSW-Pacific Southwest Research Station

Budget Contact

Anna Wong

Forest Service

PSW-Pacific Southwest Research Station

Co-Principal Investigator

Thomas H. Fletcher

Brigham Young University

Department of Chemical Engineering

Federal Cooperator

David R. Weise

Forest Service

PSW-Forest Fire Lab-Riverside

Project Locations

Fire Science Exchange Network


Great Plains

Northern Rockies






Interior West



Interior West



Pacific Coast States


Project Deliverables

Final Report view or print

("Results presented in JFSP Final Reports may not have been peer-reviewed and should be interpreted as tentative until published in a peer-reviewed source.")

  ID Type Title
view or print   107 Ph.D. Dissertation Measurement and Modeling of Fire Behavior in Leaves and Sparse Shrubs
view or print go to website 3528 Journal Article Ecological Modeling
view or print go to website 3741 Journal Article Fire Technology
view or print go to website 3628 Journal Article Combustion Science and Technology
view or print go to website 3630 Journal Article Combustion Science and Technology
view or print   336 MS Thesis Application of Fuel Element Combustion Properties to a Semi-Empirical Flame Propagation Model for Li
view or print go to website 332 MS Thesis Using Terrestrial LIDAR to Model Shrubs for Fire Behavior Simulation
view or print   1096 Poster Semi-Empirical Fire Spread Simulator for Utah Juniper and Chamise Shrubs
view or print   7705 Conference/Symposia/Workshop Using terrestrial lidar to describe fuel elements in a diffuse form shrub
view or print   7706 Poster Fuel Element Combustion Properties for Live Wildland Utah Shrubs
view or print   7707 Conference/Symposia/Workshop Using Terrestrial LiDAR to Model Shrub Fuel Beds for Fire Behavior Simulation
view or print   7709 Conference/Symposia/Workshop Combustion Properties of Fuel Segments for Live Wildland Utah Shrubs
view or print   7708 Conference/Symposia/Workshop A Combined Experimental and Theoretical Study of the Combustion of Live vs. Dead Leaves
view or print   7634 Conference/Symposia/Workshop Experiments and modeling of fire spread in shrubs in a wind tunnel.
view or print   7562 Conference/Symposia/Workshop Semi-empirical Fire Spread Simulator for Manzanita, Utah Juniper and Chamise Chrubs
view or print   7878 Conference/Symposia/Workshop Semi-empirical Model for Fire Spread in Chamise and Big Sagebrush Shrubs with Spatially-Defined Fuel
view or print   7711 Photo Wind Tunnel Experiment with Chamise Shrubs- Riverside, CA
view or print   7712 Photo Sagebrush Experiment in Wind Tunnel- Riverside, CA
view or print   7713 Photo Sagebrush Ignition Sequence in Wind Tunnel - Riverside,CA
view or print   7714 Photo Field Data Collection of Sagebrush near Big Bear, CA
view or print   5673 Conference/Symposia/Workshop Application of L Systems to Geometrical Construction of Chamise and Juniper Shrubs
view or print   7870 Conference/Symposia/Workshop Semi-empirical Model for Fire Spread in Chamise and Big Sagebrush Shrubs with Spatially-Defined Fuel

Supporting Documents

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