Chapter

Fire as a Physical Process

Jan W. Van Wagtendonk

in Fire in California's Ecosystems

Published by University of California Press

Published in print November 2006 | ISBN: 9780520246058
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520932272 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520246058.003.0003
Fire as a Physical Process

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This chapter explores fire as a physical process, including combustion, fuel characteristics, fuel models, fire weather, ignition sources, mechanisms for fire spread, and fire effects. In wildland fuels, combustion occurs in three phases: preheating, gaseous, and smoldering. Fuel is characterized by physical and chemical properties that affect combustion and fire behavior. Its characteristic classes are defined for a vegetation type and contain data for fuels in up to six strata representing potentially independent combustion environments. Fire weather includes air temperature, atmospheric moisture, atmospheric stability, and clouds and precipitation. Sufficient fuel, conducive weather, and an ignition are necessary ingredients for a fire. In line with this, this chapter investigates how these factors, combined with topography, cause a fire to spread. The chapter also introduces the physical parameters of fire behavior that affect fire severity, spotting, tree scorch height, plant mortality, biomass consumption, and microclimate.

Keywords: combustion; fuel characteristics; fuel models; fire weather; ignition; fire spread; fire effects

Chapter.  13507 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Animal Pathology and Diseases

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