Detailed physical modeling of wildland fire dynamics at field scale - An experimentally informed evaluation

Eric V. Mueller, Nicholas Skowronski, Kenneth Clark, Michael R. Gallagher, William E. Mell, Albert Simeoni, Rory M. Hadden

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) models are powerful research tools for studying fire dynamics. However, their application to wildland fire scenarios requires evaluation against relevant experimental data. To progress our current understanding of the fidelity of a CFD approach to simulating wildland fire dynamics, a dataset from an experimental fire was used as a test case. First, implications of the level of detail provided to the model, in the form of fuel structure and wind, are evaluated. Second, the predictions of both fire behavior (e.g. spread rate) and the driving combustion processes (e.g. heat flux) are compared to the experiment. It was found that both increasing the detail in canopy fuel structure and implementing turbulent boundary conditions had a minor impact. It was further found that the model reproduced fire behavior in the mid-range of experimental observations and that the representation of local combustion processes was qualitatively consistent. This work demonstrates the promising capabilities of the modeling approach used here, while showing that some of its aspects require further investigation and possibly more development.
Original languageEnglish
Article number103051
JournalFire Safety Journal
Early online date16 May 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 16 May 2020


  • Wildfires
  • Fire spread
  • Modeling
  • CFD


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