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Scientists & Staff

Joseph J. (Jay) Charney

Research Meteorologist
Climate, Fire, and Carbon Cycle Sciences
3101 Technology Blvd., Ste. F
Lansing, Michigan 48910
Phone: 517-884-8052

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Current Research

I study interactions between wildland fires and the overlying atmosphere, and investigate the potential for meteorological conditions to influence fire behavior and smoke dispersion. I employ atmospheric numerical weather prediction models to assess and predict the weather conditions that could impact the evolution of a wildland fire.

Research Interests

My primary research interest involves the development of tools and diagnostics that enable fire weather forecasters and fire managers to anticipate when fire-atmosphere interactions can impact the evolution of a wildland fire.  I use mesoscale numerical weather prediction models to reproduce the meteorological conditions associated with historical fires and attempt to associate changes in fire behavior with meteorological conditions at the ground and aloft.

I work with coupled fire-atmosphere models that explicitly resolve the combustion process, the impact of combustion on the atmosphere above a fire, and feedbacks to the fire from the atmosphere.  I attempt to validate these models using observations of fire behavior from instrumented prescribed burns and from wildfires.  The ultimate goal of this research is to develop the next generation of fire behavior and fire danger models using state-of-the-science numerical tools.  The models can then be employed by fire weather forecasters and fire managers to aide in decision-making that is required to safely carry out prescribed burns and to fight wildfires.

I employ mesoscale numerical prediction models to investigate the dispersion of smoke from wildland fires. 

Why This Research is Important

This research is working toward an improved understanding of fire-atmosphere interactions that will help produce the next generation of fire-weather and fire behavior products. These products are used by fire weather meteorologists, fire managers, and smoke managers to allow them to make more informed decisions that can save lives and property and can prevent illness and respiratory distress.


  • The Pennsylvania State University, Ph.D. Meteorology, 1997
  • University of Maryland, M.S. Meteorology, 1992
  • The Pennsylvania State University, B.S. Physics, 1990

Professional Organizations

  • Southern Michigan Prescribed Fire Council
  • International Association of Wildland Fire

Featured Publications & Products

Publications & Products

National Research Highlights

Fireflux Experiments Improve Safety of Prescribed Burns in the New Jersey Pine Barrens (2011)
Predicting the effects of smoke from low-intensity prescribed fires on local air-quality is being made easier by new tools developed by Forest Service scientists. These tools are now being validated through data collected from fuels, meteorological, and air quality monitoring networks set up near and within prescribed fires in the New Jersey Pine Barrens. The tools and observational data from this project help fire and forest managers in planning for prescribed burns to minimize adverse air-quality impacts in the vicinity of the burns.

Scientists Develop Wildfire Weather Climatology for the Northeastern United States (2012)
Knowing where and why large wildfires have occurred in the past can help weather forecasters and fire managers predict future events with greater accuracy

Last updated on : 12-May-2015