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Wagenbrenner, Natalie

Research Meterologist
Employee Role: 
Research Scientist
Phone Number: 
(406) 329-4793

RMRS Missoula Fire Sciences Laboratory
5775 US Hwy 10 West
Missoula, MT 59808

Photo: Natalie Wagenbrenner
  • B.S., Biological Engineering, University of Missouri
  • M.S., Biological Systems Engineering, Washington State University
  • PhD., Laboratory for Atmospheric Research, Washington State University
Research topics: 
  • high-resolution modeling of the atmosphere over complex terrain
  • fire-atmosphere interactions at fuel part fire-atmosphere interactions at fuel particle- to atmospheric meso-scales
  • observations and predictability of short-lived atmospheric boundaries
Personal Summary: 

Natalie’s research involves measuring and modeling the atmosphere over complex terrain in support of wildland fire applications. She is a co-developer of and project manager for WindNinja, a high-resolution wind model used by wildland fire personnel. Some recent research projects include development and evaluation of a PM emissions model for simulating post-fire wind erosion; incorporating enhancements to the thermal parameterizations, initialization methods, and numerical schemes used in WindNinja; and evaluation of numerical weather prediction models for forecasting short-lived atmospheric boundaries, such as thunderstorm outflows. Natalie is also involved with wildland fire management as a Public Information Officer on the Type 2 Northern Rockies Wildland Fire Management Team.

Bite Size Science: Windninja a high-resolution wind model for wildland fire applications in complex terrain (video)

Modified: Nov 03, 2020

Select Publications & Products

Please visit Natalie's ResearchGate page for a more complete listing of publications

Buter, B.W., Quarles, S., Standohar-Alfano, C., Morrison, M., Jimenez, D., Sopko, P., Wold, C., Bradshaw, L., Atwood, L., O’Brien, J., Hornsby, B., Wagenbrenner, N.S., Page, W., 2020. Exploring fire response to high wind speeds: fire rate of spread, energy release and flame residence time from fires burned in pine needle beds under winds up to 27 m s-1. Int. J. Wildland Fire.

Quill, R., Sharples, J.J., Wagenbrenner, N.S., Sidhu, L.A., Forthofer, J.M., 2019. Modeling wind direction distributions using a diagnostic model in the context of probabilistic fire spread prediction. Frontiers in Mechanical Engineering.

Wagenbrenner, N.S., Forthofer, J.M., Butler, B.W., 2019. Development and evaluation of a Reynolds-Averaged Navier-Stokes solver in WindNinja for operational wildland fire applications. Atmosphere.

Page, W.G., Wagenbrenner, N.S., Butler, B.W., Blunck, D.L., 2018. An analysis of spotting distances during the 2017 fire season in the Northern Rockies, USA. Canadian J. Forest Res.

Page, W.G., Wagenbrenner, N.S., Butler, B.W., Forthofer, J.M., Gibson, C., 2018. An evaluation of NDFD weather forecasts for wildland fire behavior prediction. Weath. Forecast.

Wagenbrenner, N.S., Forthofer, J.M., Gibson, C., Indreland, A., Lamb, B.K., Butler, B.W., 2018. Observations and predictability of gap winds in the Salmon River canyon of central Idaho, USA. Atmosphere.

Wagenbrenner, N.S., Forthofer, J.M., Lamb, B.K., Shannon, K.S., Butler, B.W., 2016. Downscaling surface wind predictions in complex terrain with WindNinja. Atmos. Chem. Phys. 16: 5229–5241. doi: 10.5194/acp-16-5229-2016.

Butler, B.W., Wagenbrenner, N.S., Forthofer, J.M., Lamb, B.K., Shannon, K.S., Finn, D., Eckman, R.M., Clawson, K., Bradshaw, L., Sopko, P., Beard, S., Jimenez, D., Wold, C., Vosburgh, M., 2015. High-resolution observations of the near-surface wind field over an isolated mountain and in a steep river canyon. Atmos. Chem. Phys. 15: 3785–3801. doi: 10.5194/acp-15-3785-2015.

Forthofer, J.M., Butler, B.W., Wagenbrenner, N.S., 2014. A comparison of three approaches for simulating fine-scale surface winds in support of wildland fire management: Part I. Model formulation and comparison against measurements. Int. J. Wildland Fire. doi: 10.1071/WF12089.

Forthofer, J.M., Butler, B.W., McHugh, C.W., Finney, M.A., Bradshaw, L.S., Stratton, R.D., Shannon, K.S., Wagenbrenner, N.S., 2014. A comparison of three approaches for simulating fine-scale surface winds in support of wildland fire management: Part II. An exploratory study of the impact of simulated winds on fire growth simulations. Int. J. Wildland Fire. doi:10.1071/WF12090.