Publication Details

Convection and downbursts

Publication Toolbox

  • Download PDF (115.0 KB)
  • This publication is available only online.
Charney, Joseph J.; Potter, Brian E.

Year Published



Fire Management Today. 75(1): 16-19.


Convection and downbursts are connected meteorological phenomena with the potential to affect fire behavior and thereby alter the evolution of a wildland fire. Meteorological phenomena related to convection and downbursts are often discussed in the context of fire behavior and smoke. The physical mechanisms that contribute to these phenomena are interrelated, but the phenomena are often misinterpreted or misunderstood in the fire/smoke context. In this article, we discuss the physical mechanisms associated with convection and downbursts, and we discuss terminology used in reference to fire-driven convection. We identify the role the phenomena could play in fire behavior and smoke, according to the scientific literature. We also discuss some of the misinterpretations and misunderstandings that are common in the fire community.


Charney, Joseph J.; Potter, Brian E. 2017. Convection and downbursts. Fire Management Today. 75(1): 16-19.

Last updated on: October 6, 2017