Publication Details

Climatic variability of near-surface turbulent kinetic energy over the United States: implications for fire-weather predications

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Heilman, Warren E.; Bain, Xindi

Year Published

2013

Publication

Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology. 52(4): 753-772.

Abstract

Recent research suggests that high levels of ambient near-surface atmospheric turbulence are often associated with rapid and sometimes erratic wildland fire spread that may eventually lead to large burn areas. Previous research has also examined the feasibility of using near-surface atmospheric turbulent kinetic energy (TKEs) alone or in combination with the Haines index (HI) as an additional indicator of anomalous atmospheric conditions conducive to erratic or extreme fire behavior. However, the application of TKEs-based indices for operational fire-weather predictions in the United States on a regional or national basis first requires a climatic assessment of the spatial and temporal patterns of the indices that can then be used for testing their operational effectiveness. This study provides an initial examination of some of the spatial and temporal variability patterns across the United States of TKEs and the product of HI and TKEs (HITKEs) using data from the North American Regional Reanalysis dataset covering the 1979-2008 period. The analyses suggest that there are regional differences in the behavior of these indices and that regionally dependent threshold values for TKEs and HITKEs may be needed for their potential use as operational indicators of anomalous atmospheric turbulence conditions conducive to erratic fire behavior. The analyses also indicate that broad areas within the northeastern, southeastern, and southwestern regions of the United States have experienced statistically significant positive trends in TKEs and HITKEs values over the 1979-2008 period, with the most substantial increases in values occurring over the 1994-2008 period.

Citation

Heilman, Warren E.; Bian, Xindi. 2013. Climatic variability of near-surface turbulent kinetic energy over the United States: Implications for fire-weather predictions. Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology. 52(4): 753-772. https://doi.org/10.1175/JAMC-D-12-0226.1.

Last updated on: July 17, 2014