Publication Date

Fall 2019

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Meteorology and Climate Science


Craig Clements


Fire Behavior, Slope, Wind Reversal

Subject Areas



This experiment studied fire-atmospheric interactions and wildland fire behavior on a slope. A grass slope was instrumented with both in situ and remote instruments to record both meteorological conditions and the fire behavior. A headfire was lit and allowed to burn upslope through the instruments. The data collected were analyzed to determine the fire behavior, specifically fire spread (direction and rate) and flame characteristics (length, height, and angle). During the first several minutes of the experiment, fire behavior was as expected with an upslope rate of spread at 0.1 m s-1 and flame lengths between 1 m and 4 m. However, the rest of the fire burned much more slowly than expected with an upslope rate of spread of 0.02 m s-1 and flame lengths of only between 0.25 m and 2 m. Backing fire behavior was observed. Lidar analysis indicated that an upper level wind surfaced during the experiment and a wind reversal occurred. During the initial part of the fire the wind was 45 degrees from upslope, so the wind and slope were mostly in alignment. During the second part of the fire, the wind was downslope, so the wind and slope were in opposition. From this experiment, we can conclude that the wind speed and direction can overcome the influence of slope on fire behavior.