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High-resolution infrared thermography for capturing wildland fire behaviour: RxCADRE 2012

O’Brien, Joseph J., Loudermilk, E. Louise, Hornsby, Benjamin, Hudak, Andrew T., Bright, Benjamin C., Dickinson, Matthew B., Hiers, J. Kevin, Teske, Casey, Ottmar, Roger D.
The International journal of wildland fire 2016 v.25 no.1 pp. 62-75
combustion, energy, fire spread, fuels, fuels (fire ecology), models, prescribed burning, remote sensing, thermography, wildfires
Wildland fire radiant energy emission is one of the only measurements of combustion that can be made at wide spatial extents and high temporal and spatial resolutions. Furthermore, spatially and temporally explicit measurements are critical for making inferences about fire effects and useful for examining patterns of fire spread. In this study we describe our methods for capturing and analysing spatially and temporally explicit long-wave infrared (LWIR) imagery from the RxCADRE (Prescribed Fire Combustion and Atmospheric Dynamics Research Experiment) project and examine the usefulness of these data in investigating fire behaviour and effects. We compare LWIR imagery captured at fine and moderate spatial and temporal resolutions (from 1cm2 to 1m2; and from 0.12 to 1Hz) using both nadir and oblique measurements. We analyse fine-scale spatial heterogeneity of fire radiant power and energy released in several experimental burns. There was concurrence between the measurements, although the oblique view estimates of fire radiative power were consistently higher than the nadir view estimates. The nadir measurements illustrate the significance of fuel characteristics, particularly type and connectivity, in driving spatial variability at fine scales. The nadir and oblique measurements illustrate the usefulness of the data for describing the location and movement of the fire front at discrete moments in time at these fine and moderate resolutions. Spatially and temporally resolved data from these techniques show promise to effectively link the combustion environment with post-fire processes, remote sensing at larger scales and wildland fire modelling efforts.