Examination of the wind speed limit function in the Rothermel surface fire spread model

TitleExamination of the wind speed limit function in the Rothermel surface fire spread model
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2013
AuthorsAndrews, PL, Cruz, MG, Rothermel, RC
JournalInternational Journal of Wildland Fire
VolumeOn-line early
Date Published06/2013
Keywordsfire behavior models, fuel model, grasslands, midflame wind speed, technical reports and journal articles

The Rothermel surface fire spread model includes a wind speed limit, above which predicted rate of spread is constant. Complete derivation of the wind limit as a function of reaction intensity is given, along with an alternate result based on a changed assumption. Evidence indicates that both the original and the revised wind limits are too restrictive. Wind limit is based in part on data collected on the 7 February 1967 Tasmanian grassland fires. A reanalysis of the data indicates that these fires might not have been spreading in fully cured continuous grasslands, as assumed. In addition, more recent grassfire data do not support the wind speed limit. The authors recommend that, in place of the current wind limit, rate of spread be limited to effective midflame wind speed. The Rothermel model is the foundation of many wildland fire modelling systems. Imposition of the wind limit can significantly affect results and potentially influence fire and fuel management decisions.