Influence of slope on propagating fire fronts

Niklas Manz

The idea of exploring the dynamics of wildfires (forest fires) with an array of matches was first published In 2015 [C. Punckt, P. S. Bodega, P. Kaira, and H. H. Rotermund, Wildfires in the lab: Simple experiment and models for the exploration of excitable dynamics, J. Chem. Educ., 92(8), 1330-1337, 2015]. In the article, the authors explained and simulated some propagation conditions. We plan to continue Robin Morillo’s Junior IS (Spring 2016) and Senior IS (Fall 2016 – Spring 2017) results.

Fire Fronts

One of the results is shown in the following graph. His experimental data points (front velocity vs. slope angle) are plotted with two different fitting conditions: A linear (solid blue line) and the tangent-squared relationship (dotted green line) as used in the Rothermel model (R. C. Rothermel, A mathematical model for predicting the spread in wildland fuels, USDA Forest Service, 1972, Research paper INT-115, Ogden, Utah, USA, 40 p.). The red vertical lines indicate the (current) thresholds for possible fire fronts.


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