Funding Received for Research in Modeling Prescribed Wildfires

The U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service Rocky Mountain Research Station has increased funding for Dr. Ian Leslie of the Mechanical Engineering Department. The increase of $15,485 brings the total award to $91,913.

A collaborative effort between NMSU, the USDA Forest Service, and Los Alamos National Laboratory is aimed at modeling prescribed wildfires near the southern end of the New Mexico/Arizona border. For several years, Dr. Rod Linn and others at Los Alamos have been developing a physics-based computer code (FIRETEC/HIGRAD) to model wildland fires. Dr. Leslie has been applying and modifying the code to work with the vegetation and terrain in the borderlands region. Several challenges exist, with two that stand out. One is computational requirements. A large fire will require millions of computational nodes and extensive computer time to simulate. Even the computer facilities at Los Alamos might not be up to the task at this time. The other, more tractable challenge is data input, including fuel type and loading, topography at the appropriate scale, and weather conditions. At present a small fire has been simulated based on vegetation data gathered in the field. Computer runs with varying amounts of ground fuel show that accurate fuel input is important.

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