Turbulent Momentum Flux Behavior Above A Fire Front In An Open-Canopied Forest

  • Sites: US-Slt
  • Heilman, W. E., Clark, K. L., Bian, X., Charney, J. J., Zhong, S., Skowronski, N. S., Gallagher, M. R., Patterson, M. (2021/07/24) Turbulent Momentum Flux Behavior Above A Fire Front In An Open-Canopied Forest, Atmosphere, 12(8), 956. https://doi.org/10.3390/atmos12080956
  • Funding Agency: DOD SERDP, USDA Forest Service

  • Atmospheric turbulent circulations in the vicinity of wildland fire fronts play an important role in the transfer of momentum into and out of combustion zones, which in turn can potentially affect the behavior and spread of wildland fires. The vertical turbulent transfer of momentum is accomplished via individual sweep, ejection, outward interaction, and inward interaction events, collectively known as sweep-ejection dynamics. This study examined the sweep-ejection dynamics that occurred before, during, and after the passage of a surface fire front during a prescribed fire experiment conducted in an open-canopied forest in the New Jersey Pine Barrens. High-frequency (10 Hz), tower-based, sonic anemometer measurements of horizontal and vertical wind velocity components in the vicinity of the fire front were used to assess the relative frequencies of occurrence of the different types of momentum-flux events, their contributions to the overall momentum fluxes, and their periodicity patterns. The observational results suggest that the presence of surface fire fronts in open-canopied forests can substantially change the sweep-ejection dynamics that typically occur when fires are not present. In particular, sweep events resulting in the downward transport of high horizontal momentum air from above were found to be more prominent during fire-front-passage periods.