Interdisciplinary

Wildland fire science includes interdisciplinary components that cross-cut several focal areas. Research disciplines such as meteorology and climate can improve our understanding of the conditions that limit and promote wildland fire activity across multiple spatial and temporal scales. These disciplines are critical to improve short-term fire spread modeling as well as smoke emissions and dispersion predictions and are critical to improving the many systems used through wildland fire management. Much is still unknown about how atmospheric and topographic drivers influence short-term variations in near surface weather conditions, such as temperature, humidity and wind, and how these variations interact to promote wildland fire activity. Further, long-term variations in climate can inform ecologically-based vegetation management and community wildfire risk evaluations. Ultimately, interdisciplinary research can intersect with all other focal areas and its scientific advancement is critical to the Forest Service mission of managing landscapes for current and future generations.

Additionally, technologies such as terrestrial, airborne and spaceborne remote sensing platforms continue to offer ways to map and explore critical components of the wildland fire environment including fuels characteristics, fire activity/growth and fire effects. As such, remote sensing is a critical cross-cutting discipline that can inform and improve research activities in all other focal areas.

Further, the creation of science application and integration products is critical to transfer technology from fundamental research to operational systems that can provide access to the best available science for decision making. This includes both application development and technology transfer. This research intersects all other focal areas.

Projects in Interdisciplinary

Displaying 1 - 41 of 41
An Evaluation of Wildland Fire Smoke Sensors
2017-2025
Wildland fires produce significant air pollution and real-time measurements of these pollutants are critical for mitigating the human health impacts of smoke. With climate change increasing the severity of the western U.S. wildfire season, there is an urgent need for new air pollution measurement technologies to reduce coverage gaps in existing…
ArcFuels
2005-present
Vegetation and fuel management planning is a complex problem that requires advanced vegetation and fire behavior modeling and intensive spatial data analyses. Both the benefits and potential impacts of proposed treatments must be clearly demonstrated in the context of land management goals and public expectations. Potential fire behavior metrics,…
Assessment of community wildfire exposure in the western US
2016-present
The first comprehensive assessment of where public wildlands in the Western US potentially contribute wildfire exposure to communities. Predicting wildfire disasters presents a major challenge to the field of risk science, especially when fires are propagated over long distances through diverse fuel types and complex terrain. A good example is in…
Black Carbon from Fires in Northern Eurasia
2002-Present
Northern Eurasia covers 20% of the global land mass and contains 70% of the boreal forest. During certain times of the year, black carbon (BC) in smoke plumes at high latitudes may be transported and deposited on Arctic ice, thereby accelerating ice melting. It is thus imperative to better understand daily sources, transport, and deposition of BC…
Carrying the Fire the Pikunii Way
2009-present
Video and educational lesson about how and why the Pikunii (one branch of the Blackfeet Nation) people transported fire from one camp to another as they traveled along historical migration routes. This activity includes a complete lesson plan, examination of a Fire Carrier model, and a 12-minute video interview with Pikunii elder Marvin Weatherwax…
Climate Change on Global Fire Danger
2014-present
Wildfires occur at the intersection of dry weather, available fuel, and ignition sources. Weather is the most variable and largest driver of regional burned area. Temperature, relative humidity, precipitation, and wind speed independently influence wildland fire spread rates and intensities. The alignment of multiple weather extremes, such as the…
Describing Wildland Fuels
2012-Present
Considerable effort is expended to determine fuel loadings and to map those loadings across the landscape, yet there is little or no work being done to determine how to incorporate those measurements into the next generation of fire behavior models, such as physics-based models. Identifying critical spatial and temporal fuel characteristics…
Evaluating Fuel Treatment Effectiveness
2013-present
Increasingly intense fire seasons, rapidly changing ecosystems, and an expanding wildland-urban interface all increase the hazard that fires pose to communities, watersheds, and ecosystems. Fuel treatments offer managers an opportunity to proactively mitigate threats to firefighters and communities as well as to maintain or restore healthy…
FastFuels: 3D Fuels for Next Generation Fire Models
2020-present
Advanced 3D fire models offer new possibilities for detailed analysis of fuel treatments and prescribed fires. However, the spatially explicit, detailed 3D fuels data they require is difficult to get, particularly for large areas. FastFuels opens the door to this kind of modeling by combining existing fuels and spatial data with cutting edge…
FFI: Ecological Monitoring
2006-present
For a quick overview see our FFI: Ecological Monitoring Story Map FFI is designed to help managers fulfill monitoring requirements set forth in Federal legislation and agency policy. It supports scalable (project to landscape scale) monitoring at the field and research level, and encourages cooperative, interagency data management and information…
Fire Lab Seminar Series
The Seminar Series runs from Fall to Spring
The Missoula Fire Sciences Laboratory has been hosting an annual seminar series since 1998. Hour-long seminars are presented by Fire Lab employees and other researchers from throughout the world. Seminars cover current research and management about the natural world from a broad range of disciplines, but most seminars usually have a wildland fire…
Fire Management, Zambia
2014 - present
A team of four individuals, supported through the U.S. Forest Service International Programs, convened in October 2014 to conduct a fire regime assessment in Eastern Province of Zambia. The team, which included a multinational assemblage from the United States and Zambia, was tasked with the following objectives: 1) gain preliminary insights into…
Fire Weather Alert System
2017-Present
The Fire Weather Alert System (FWAS) has been designed to warn on-the-ground firefighters of dangerous weather conditions in their area. Users set custom weather thresholds and the FWAS sends alerts via text message and email when those thresholds are exceeded. FWAS monitors several types of weather measurements (RAWS, radar, etc.) and forecasts…
Firefighter Safety
1996-present
Perhaps one of the most critical decisions made by firefighters during daily fire management operations is the identification of suitable safety zones. As a consequence of 11 firefighters being killed on the Inaja Fire in 1957, the U.S. Forest Service issued a report recommending that firefighters identify safety zones at all times when fighting…
Fuels and potential fire behavior in balsam woolly adelgid-impacted forests
2020-present
We are developing a product and methodology that allows rapid assessment of fuels and potential fire hazard in forests impacted by the non-native balsam woolly adelgid (BWA) to better protect and improve the health of western America’s high-elevation fir forests. We will 1) compare fuel metrics derived from standard field procedures with aerial…
Improving firefighter safety
2005-2017
Wildland firefighting by its nature is inherently dangerous. There have been 699 wildland firefighters die in fire related accidents between 1910 and 1996 in the United States; 384 of those were directly related to fire entrapments. Wildland firefighters must consider all risks to themselves and others when approaching, suppressing, and managing…
LANDFIRE Overview
2004-present
An overview of LANDFIRE organization, processes, and products. LANDFIRE produces consistent national-level, landscape-scale geospatial products to support fire and fuels management planning, analysis, and budgeting to evaluate fire management alternatives. Principal partners in the production process are the United States Department of Interior (…
LANDFIRE ReMap
2014-present
Scoping for comprehensive decadal remapping in order capture gradual, cumulative, and broad-scale changes for the entire LANDFIRE mapping area has begun. This remap will capture changes due to drought, invasive species, vegetation succession, disturbance, and loss of open space. The main objective of this effort is to create a new "base map" (top…
Lodgepole fire history
2017-present
Lodgepole pine-dominated forest is the third most extensive forest type in western North America, covering 15 million acres in the western United States. Over much of this extensive range, surprisingly little is known about historical fire regimes. While these regimes are commonly characterized as infrequent and stand-replacing, like those found…
LSim forest landscape management model
2017- present
The Forest Vegetation Simulator was integrated with the FSim wildfire simulation model to conduct research on long term management and wildfire feedbacks. Forest landscape models (FLMs) are important tools used to address a wide range of forest management policy tradeoffs on public and private forests. Several recent studies using FLMs have…
Mapping and modeling fuels and fire at the Sycan Marsh, Oregon
2017 - present
The research being performed through multidisciplinary collaboration efforts at TNC’s Sycan Marsh Preserve in Oregon is providing much needed data for fuel mapping efforts by linking surface fuel datasets with TLS and UAS data pre, during, and post-fire. It also provides essential data for fire mapping and behavioral understanding of forest and…
National Fire Danger Rating System
1994-present
NFDRS applications involve two steps: a historical analysis to set appropriate fire danger breakpoints and an operational system to provide NFDRS fuel moistures and indices in real-time. Historical analyses are performed by combining fire weather and fire occurrence data in Fire Family Plus. Operational indices are produced by the Weather…
New & Improved 7-Day Wildland Fire Outlook
2017-present
RMC is developing a system of statistical weather-based models for forecasting wildland fire potential & fire risk out to 7-10 days on a uniform national grid. The development of this gridded system of predictive equations has been planned to proceed in 4 phases with R&D tasks being executed under a Joint Venture Agreement with Colorado…
Operational 7-Day Weather Forecasts for Fire Managers & Air Resource Advisors
2021 - present
RMC is working to deliver operational (real-time) 5-km resolution 3-D weather forecast fields going out to 7 days for ConUS using the WRF mesoscale model. RMC is currently producing 4-day fire-weather forecasts at 4-km resolution for ConUS that are updated 3 times a day. This operational product will be augmented with a high-resolution 7-day…
Predicting future extreme wildfire events in the western US
2020-2021
Predictive mapping of extreme wildfire disasters presents a daunting challenge to the field of risk and hazard science.  Wildfire risk to developed areas is the cumulative product of complex interacting factors including spatiotemporal patterns of human and natural ignitions, fire propagation over long distances through heterogeneous fuel types…
Predicting tree growth and beetle susceptibility after fire
2019-present
We are creating tools to inform post-fire decisions that predict post-fire growth rates and mortality levels due to fire alone or fire+beetle for ponderosa pine (PP) and Douglas-fir (DF). The models in the tools will account for tree size, fire injury, site productivity, changes in competition, and beetle pressure. The project will also validate…
RxCadre Project
2012-present
Obtaining Integrated, Quality-assured Fuels, Fire, and Atmospheric Data for Development and Evaluation of Fuels, Fire Behavior, Smoke, and Fire Effects Models The lack of co-located, multi-scale measures of pre-fire fuels, active fire processes, and post-fire effects hinders our ability to tackle fundamental fire science questions. The lack of…
SERDP RC20-Closing Gaps
2020-present
This project responds to the Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program (SERDP)’s FY 2020 Statement of Need: “DoD WILDLAND FIRE MANAGEMENT RESEARCH FOR IMPROVED MILITARY LAND USE”, for which the overarching objective was “to improve understanding of self-organization of convective structures and near-fire smoke plume development for…
Sharing Expertise
2008-present
Since 2008, the Fire, Fuel, and Smoke Science Program has worked with the University of Montana, the University of Idaho, and the Rocky Mountain Research Station’s Wildland Fire Management RD&A Program in a University-Forest Service partnership with a mission to improve the management of wildland fire by integrating science, technology,…
Spring Dip
2012-Present
Both firefighters and fire scientists have observed a period of peak crown fire activity in the Great Lakes area during spring when a dip in foliar moisture content occurs. For decades, the cause and timing of this ‘dip’ have been poorly understood. It is therefore important to understand the drivers of this dip in order to improve wildland…
Surface Wind Modeling
2002 - ongoing
High resolution surface wind modeling in support of fire management Wind can be the dominant environmental variable affecting wildland fire intensity and spread. When fire is burning in mountainous terrain, winds can vary widely in speed and direction over scales of 3 to 200 feet. The result is rapid changes in fire intensity at small scales that…
TCEF Grid - Monitoring wildland fuels
1996 - present
Monitoring wildland fuel characteristics on a 330 m grid across the entire TCEF. Most ecological studies fail to account for ecosystem response and its variability over large space and long time scales. Impacts of many disturbances and management actions, such as climate change, mountain pine beetle outbreaks, timber harvesting, and wildland fire…
Tenderfoot Creek Experimental Forest
1961-present
For a more indepth overview, see our TCEF Story Map. The Tenderfoot Creek Experimental Forest (TCEF) encompasses the headwaters of Tenderfoot Creek in the Little Belt mountains of central Montana.TCEF is uniquely suited to study lodgepole pine ecology and forest hydrology. Image The Tenderfoot…
The Fireshed Registry
2019-present
Prioritizing forest and fuel management investments to reduce wildfire risk to developed areas The Fireshed Registry is a geospatial dashboard and decision tool built in ArcGIS online.  It provides an interactive system to view a wide array of information about firesheds and monitor progress towards risk reduction from management investments. The…
U.S. Wildfires
2010-present
A Spatial Database of U.S. Wildfires Wildfire occurrence records provide baseline information that is essential for wildfire management and research in the United States. However, there are multiple federal, state, and local entities with wildfire protection and reporting responsibilities in the United States, and no single, unified system of…
Weather Information Management System Support
2015-present
The U.S. National Fire Danger Rating System (NFDRS) is used by all federal and most state fire management agencies for assessing seasonal fire severity across the nation. The application that hosts the NFDRS is the Washington Office Fire and Aviation Management’s (WO F&AM) Weather Information Management System (WIMS) located at the USDA…
Wildfire Hazard Potential
2008-present
Wildfire Hazard Potential* for the United States The wildfire hazard potential (WHP) map is a raster geospatial product produced by the USDA Forest Service, Fire Modeling Institute that can help to inform evaluations of wildfire hazard or prioritization of fuels management needs across very large landscapes.Our specific objective with the WHP map…
Wildfire Risk to Communities
2020-present
Wildfire Risk to Communities is a free, easy-to-use website with interactive maps, charts, and resources to help communities understand, explore, and reduce wildfire risk. The website was created by the USDA Forest Service under the direction of Congress and is designed to be a starting point to help community leaders, such as elected officials,…
Wildland Fire Investment Planning System (WFIPS)
2016-Present
Purpose: The WFIPS system is intended to conduct risk-based analysis of fire management activities and wildfire outcomes for alternative investments in Preparedness, Hazardous Fuels, and Large Fire Suppression. Analysis occurs at user-specified scales from local (i.e. District, National Forests) to Regional and National for all lands and all…
WindNinja
2005-present
WindNinja is a computer program that computes spatially varying wind fields for wildland fire application. See the WindNinja project website for more details. Check out the new WindNinja-Mobile application! Take a look at our WindNinja story map to see a quick overview. Wind is one of the most influential environmental factors affecting…
WindNinja-Mobile
2016-Present
Take a look at our WindNinja story map to see a quick overview of WindNinja and WindNinja Mobile. The WindNinja computer program is a powerful tool for predicting wind fields in complex terrain, but is inconvenient for field users. To solve this problem, WindNinja-Mobile has been developed so field going personnel can also benefit from these high…