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Article

Evaluating the Ability of FARSITE to Simulate Wildfires Influenced by Extreme, Downslope Winds in Santa Barbara, California

1
Department of Geography, University of California, Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, CA 93106, USA
2
Earth Research Institute, University of California, Santa Barbara, CA 93106, USA
3
CEESMO, Chapman University, Orange, CA 92866, USA
4
University of California Cooperative Extension, Agriculture and Natural Resources Division, Oakland, CA 94607, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 12 June 2020 / Revised: 1 July 2020 / Accepted: 7 July 2020 / Published: 10 July 2020
Extreme, downslope mountain winds often generate dangerous wildfire conditions. We used the wildfire spread model Fire Area Simulator (FARSITE) to simulate two wildfires influenced by strong wind events in Santa Barbara, CA. High spatial-resolution imagery for fuel maps and hourly wind downscaled to 100 m were used as model inputs, and sensitivity tests were performed to evaluate the effects of ignition timing and location on fire spread. Additionally, burn area rasters from FARSITE simulations were compared to minimum travel time rasters from FlamMap simulations, a wildfire model similar to FARSITE that holds environmental variables constant. Utilization of two case studies during strong winds revealed that FARSITE was able to successfully reconstruct the spread rate and size of wildfires when spotting was minimal. However, in situations when spotting was an important factor in rapid downslope wildfire spread, both FARSITE and FlamMap were unable to simulate realistic fire perimeters. We show that this is due to inherent limitations in the models themselves, related to the slope-orientation relative to the simulated fire spread, and the dependence of ember launch and land locations. This finding has widespread implications, given the role of spotting in fire progression during extreme wind events. View Full-Text
Keywords: wildfire modeling; FARSITE; spotting; fire weather; Sundowner winds wildfire modeling; FARSITE; spotting; fire weather; Sundowner winds
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MDPI and ACS Style

Zigner, K.; Carvalho, L.M.V.; Peterson, S.; Fujioka, F.; Duine, G.-J.; Jones, C.; Roberts, D.; Moritz, M. Evaluating the Ability of FARSITE to Simulate Wildfires Influenced by Extreme, Downslope Winds in Santa Barbara, California. Fire 2020, 3, 29. https://doi.org/10.3390/fire3030029

AMA Style

Zigner K, Carvalho LMV, Peterson S, Fujioka F, Duine G-J, Jones C, Roberts D, Moritz M. Evaluating the Ability of FARSITE to Simulate Wildfires Influenced by Extreme, Downslope Winds in Santa Barbara, California. Fire. 2020; 3(3):29. https://doi.org/10.3390/fire3030029

Chicago/Turabian Style

Zigner, Katelyn; Carvalho, Leila M.V.; Peterson, Seth; Fujioka, Francis; Duine, Gert-Jan; Jones, Charles; Roberts, Dar; Moritz, Max. 2020. "Evaluating the Ability of FARSITE to Simulate Wildfires Influenced by Extreme, Downslope Winds in Santa Barbara, California" Fire 3, no. 3: 29. https://doi.org/10.3390/fire3030029

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