Skip to page content
USDA Forest Service

Research & Development Treesearch

Treesearch Home
About Treesearch
Contact Us
Research & Development
Forest Products Lab
International Institute of Tropical Forestry
Pacific Northwest
Pacific Southwest
Rocky Mountain
Southern Research Station
Help - We Participate  Government Made Easy

Global Forest Information Service

US Forest Service
P.O. Box 96090
Washington, D.C.

(202) 205-8333

You are here: Home / Search / Publication Information
Bookmark and Share

Publication Information

View PDF (953 KB)

Title: Field validation of a free-agent cellular automata model of fire spread with fire–atmosphere coupling

Author: Achtemeier, Gary;

Date: 2012

Source: International Journal of Wildland Fire

Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)

Description: A cellular automata fire model represents ‘elements’ of fire by autonomous agents. A few simple algebraic expressions substituted for complex physical and meteorological processes and solved iteratively yield simulations for ‘super-diffusive’ fire spread and coupled surface-layer (2-m) fire–atmosphere processes. Pressure anomalies, which are integrals of the thermal properties of the overlying heated plume, drive the surface winds around and through the fire. Five simulations with differing fuel and wind conditions were compared with fire and meteorological data from an experimental grassfire (FireFlux). The fire model accurately simulated bulk patterns of measured time-series of 2-m winds at two towers and observed fire behaviour (spread rate, flaming depth and heat released). Fidelity to spatial windfields in the vicinity of the fire was similar to results from full-physics fire models for other grassfires. Accurate predictions of fire spread depend critically on accurate wind speeds and directions at the location of the fire. Simulated fire–atmosphere coupling using FireFlux data increased wind speeds across the fire line by up to a factor of three. With its computational speed relative to full-physics models, the fire model can inform full-physics modellers regarding problems of interest. Although the fire model is tested for homogeneous fuels on flat terrain, the model is designed for simulating complex distributions of fire within heterogeneous distributions of fuels over complex landscapes

Keywords: fire behavior, fire-atmosphere interaction, cellular automata

Publication Notes:

  • We recommend that you also print this page and attach it to the printout of the article, to retain the full citation information.
  • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.



Achtemeier Gary L. (2012) Field validation of a free-agent cellular automata model of fire spread with fire–atmosphere coupling. International Journal of Wildland Fire,


 [ Get Acrobat ]  Get the latest version of the Adobe Acrobat reader or Acrobat Reader for Windows with Search and Accessibility

USDA logo which links to the department's national site. Forest Service logo which links to the agency's national site.