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Physical phenomena and length scales governing the behaviour of wildfires: a case for physical modelling

Abstract : This paper is an overview of the physical mechanisms and length scales governing the propagation of wildfires. One of the objectives is to identify the physical and mathematical constraints in the modelling of wildfires when using a "fully" physical approach. The literature highlights two regimes in the propagation of surface fires, i.e. wind-driven fires and plume-dominated fires, which are governed by radiation and convective heat transfer, respectively. This division leads to the identification of two governing length scales: the extinction length characterising the absorption of radiation by vegetation, and the integral turbulent length scale characterising the interaction between wind and canopy. Some numerical results published during the last decade using a fully physical approach are presented and discussed with a focus on the models FIRESTAR, FIRELES, FIRETEC and WFDS. Numerical simulations were compared with experimental data obtained at various scales, from laboratory to field fires in grassland and in Mediterranean shrubland. Some perspectives are presented concerning the potential coupling between physical fire models with mesoscale atmospheric models to study the impacts of wildfires at larger scale. Some of the topics on wildfire physical modelling that need further research are identified in the conclusions.
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Submitted on : Thursday, July 10, 2014 - 3:14:13 PM
Last modification on : Thursday, January 23, 2020 - 6:22:11 PM

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Dominique Morvan. Physical phenomena and length scales governing the behaviour of wildfires: a case for physical modelling. Fire Technology, Springer Verlag, 2011, 47 (2), pp.437-460. ⟨10.1007/s10694-010-0160-2⟩. ⟨hal-01022589⟩



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