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A generic, empirical-based model for predicting rate of fire spread in shrublands

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-18, 15:45 authored by Anderson, WR, Cruz, MG, Fernandes, PM, McCaw, L, Vega, JA, Bradstock, RA, Fogarty, L, Gould, J, McCarthy, G, Jonathan Marsden-SmedleyJonathan Marsden-Smedley, Matthews, S, Mattingley, G, Pearce, HG, van Wilgen, BW
A shrubland fire behaviour dataset was assembled using data from experimental studies in Australia, New Zealand, Europe and South Africa. The dataset covers a wide range of heathlands and shrubland species associations and vegetation structures. Three models for rate of spread are developed using 2-m wind speed, a wind reduction factor, elevated dead fuel moisture content and either vegetation height (with or without live fuel moisture content) or bulk density. The models are tested against independent data from prescribed fires and wildfires and found to predict fire spread rate within acceptable limits (mean absolute errors varying between 3.5 and 9.1 m min–1). A simple model to predict dead fuel moisture content is evaluated, and an ignition line length correction is proposed. Although the model can be expected to provide robust predictions of rate of spread in a broad range of shrublands, the effects of slope steepness and variation in fuel quantity and composition are yet to be quantified. The model does not predict threshold conditions for continuous fire spread, and future work should focus on identifying fuel and weather factors that control transitions in fire behaviour.


Publication title

International Journal of Wildland Fire










School of Geography, Planning and Spatial Sciences


CSIRO Publishing

Place of publication

150 Oxford St, Po Box 1139, Collingwood, Australia, Victoria, 3066

Rights statement

Copyright 2015 IAWF

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Assessment and management of Antarctic and Southern Ocean ecosystems

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