Forest Fire Simulation Proposal Sophie Schneider, Gordon Read, Evan Holmes, Trevor Isner, Sami Anderson
Introduction • Waldo Canyon Fire forced 11,000 people from their homes (Summer 2012) • Entire area was affected by higher temperatures and air pollution • Burn scars led to severe flooding the following year
Introduction • Wildfires may be better controlled with the use of simulations that can model behaviors • Allow us to react to real-world situations more effectively • Investigative Question: How does forest fire composition affect the behavior of forest fires in the Southern Colorado region?
Proposal • Simulation specifically designed for the Southern Colorado region • Funding would allow us to deepen the simulation to be more accurate • More tree types • Weather patterns • Access to servers with related information would be of use
What is fire? Combustion • Fuel reacts with oxygen to release heat energy (exothermic reaction). • Gases break down due to heat and make new compounds (carbon dioxide, water, soot…) • Fuels can be solid, liquid or gas, however combustion only occurs between gasses. Fire Tetrahedron • Heat, fuel, oxygen, uninhibited chemical chain reaction • Creates heat to sustain flame • Redox reaction • Oxygen becomes reduced, fuel becomes oxidized
How Fires Work Four Stages of Fire • Ignition: Fuel, oxygen and heat form together in a chemical reaction • Growth: Additional fuel ignites with the initial heat and flame. • Fully Developed: Fire has covered and consumed most of the fuel • Decay: Fire has consumed all fuel, causing temperatures to decrease, and eventually leads to a burn out. Heat Transfer • Radiation: The transfer of energy via waves (through space) • Convection: The transfer of heat energy due to the “physical movement” of hot air. • Conduction: The transfer of heat energy with material, itself. Most fires spread due to conduction
How do forest fires start? • Human causes • 90% of wildfires caused by humans • Unattended campfires, burning of debris, discarded cigarettes • Intentional acts of arson • Natural causes • Volcanic eruptions • Lightning strikes • Unusually long-lasting hot lightning strikes • Currents of less voltage, but strikes occur for longer periods of time
What are the types of plants in the Southern Colorado region? • Plants used in simulation: • Trees • Shrubs/undergrowth • There are many different tree and plant species common to Southern Colorado • Due to lack of funding, only three tree species and three shrubs will be highlighted.
What weather conditions affect the behavior of a forest fire? Temperature: • When underbrush receives solar radiation, it evaporates internal moisture, allowing them to be more susceptible to burning • Higher susceptibility to burning: more underbrush ignites faster, spreading fire quickly. • Afternoons are usually the hottest, and therefore the most likely time for fires to start or spread.
What weather conditions affect the behavior of a forest fire? Wind: • Most unpredictable factor • Supplies fire with oxygen, giving it more energy • Stronger winds can push fire into a certain direction, accelerating it • Makes fuel (underbrush) dry faster by transporting moisture • Large fires can develop their own, very strong, wind patterns Spotting: • Embers from fire are picked up by wind and can land outside of fire area • Can start new fires or accelerate growth of fire • Usually the reason for fires crossing roads, rivers, etc.
What weather conditions affect the behavior of a forest fire? Moisture: • Amount of water vapor in the air • Moisture absorbs heat from fire, making fuels harder to ignite • When air is saturated with moisture, moisture is released as rain • Greatly raises moisture levels in fuels • Helps extinguish fires
How will the simulation be created? • Plant Class • Majority of actors • Two Sub-classes • Variables not applicable to both • Methods apply to all Class → Variables → Methods → Sub-class → Variables →
How will the simulation be created? • Fire Class • Not in the original world • startType based on user Input • Has a chance to spot • Will remove the objects from the world • Might go out on its own Class → Variables → Methods →
How will the simulation be created? • Very simple • Chance to block fire based on • thickness of river/lake • side in which fire approaches Class → Method →
Hypothesis Based on preliminary research, we predict: If a simulation of a forest consisting of densely spaced trees featuring thin bark, shallow roots, low branches, and resinous wood in a dry, windy climate is ignited, then the simulation will demonstrate higher temperatures and a faster spread rate than a forest with thick bark, high moisture content, and mature trees because these characteristics are reflected in real-world wildfires.
Conclusion • We ask for funding and access to information to help us expand upon our simulation to model real-world situations more accurately. • Research different variables (trees, weather conditions, distributions, etc.), running and testing the simulation, increase workforce so simulation is ready for this summer,... • Simulation would allow effective response to and reduced effects of future wildfires such as the Waldo Canyon Fire.
Photo credits http://public.media.smithsonianmag.com/legacy_blog/05_22_2013_forest-fire.jpg http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/0/03/Waldocanyon.jpg/300px-Waldocanyon.jpg http://appraisalforensicsinc.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/waldo-canyon-fire-1.jpg http://www.animatedgif.net/fireexplosions/explosion2_e0.gif http://s454.photobucket.com/user/oldcatman/media/forest_fire_hg_clr.gif.html http://www.treeinabox.com/Ponderosa-Pine.html http://www.realchristmastrees.org/dnn/Education/TreeVarieties/ConcolorFir.aspx http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/colorado+blue+spruce http://calphotos.berkeley.edu/imgs/512x768/0000_0000/1012/0856.jpeg http://www.tarleton.edu/Departments/range/Shrublands/Miscellaneous/miscshrub.html http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/detail/mt/about/?cid=nrcs144p2_057763
Bibliography All About Fire. (n.d.). Retrieved February 21, 2014, from National Fire Protection Association website: https://www.nfpa.org/press-room/ reporters-guide-to-fire-and-nfpa/all-about-fire Bonsor, K. (n.d.). How Wildfires Work: Weather's Role in Wildfires. Retrieved February 21, 2014, from HowStuffWorks.com website: http://science.howstuffworks.com/nature/natural-disasters/wildfire2.htm Colorado's Major Tree Species. (n.d.). Retrieved February 21, 2014, from Colorado State University website: http://csfs.colostate.edu/pages/major-tree-species.html Cottrell, W. H., Jr. (2004). The Book of Fire. Missoula, MT: Mountain Press Publishing.
Bibliography (cont.) Hix, E. (Ed.). (n.d.). Heat Transfer. Retrieved February 21, 2014, from Auburn website: https://fp.auburn.edu/fire/heat_transfer.htm Klett, J., Fahey, B., & Cox, R. (2008, July). Native Shrubs for Colorado Landscapes. Retrieved March 7, 2014, from Colorado State University website: http://www.ext.colostate.edu/pubs/garden/07422.html Wildfire Causes. (n.d.). Retrieved February 21, 2014, from Fire and Aviation Management website: http://www.nps.gov/fire/wildland-fire/learning-center/ fire-in-depth/wildfire-causes.cfm Wildfires across Colorado. (2012, June 6). Retrieved February 21, 2014, from NASA website: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/fires/main/usa/ colo-20120626.html