Modelling the East Troublesome Wildfire With WRF-Fire

Timothy Taylor, University of Colorado at Boulder

Photo of Timothy Taylor

How can we better understand the way wildland fires spread? Large wildfires can cause substantial personal and material damage, and present significant challenges for firefighters and computational modelers alike. Fires have frequently raged out of control in recent years, as heating and drying in the American West due to climate change continues to significantly increase fuel loading and the risk of uncontrolled growth. Understanding the conditions and dynamic pathways that allow large wildfires to spread quickly is essential for informing public policy, managing the wildland-urban interface, and aiding wildland firefighting efforts. WRF (the Weather Research and Forecasting model) is a numerical weather prediction model designed to accurately resolve atmospheric dynamics, with options for simulation of additional mechanisms such as atmospheric chemistry, hurricanes, and fire spread. Here, I apply WRF-Fire to the East Troublesome fire to examine the conditions that led to such rapid and explosive growth in the fire front. With time, we aim to explore the generation conditions and dynamic feedbacks of specific fire phenomena such as pyrocumulus clouds.

Abstract Author(s): Joey Taylor, Julie Lundquist