School: New Mexico School for the Arts
Area of Science: Environmental Science
Interim: IT’S ABOUT TO GET LIT UP IN HERE 12/5/19
In our project we intend to model the movement of forest fires in areas with variable elevation. In many other models of forest fire movement, fire travels at the same rate regardless of what the elevation change in an area is. However, this overlooks what we expect to be a significant variable in burn rate. Any predictions of where a fire might spread that do not account for elevation could incorrectly determine the safest evacuation routes, what areas could be affected, and put lives at risk. Our model will be representative of a small additional piece of data (burn rates with regard to elevation changes) that can be added to the more complex models implemented in the control, and prediction of dangerous forest fires.
We have created a physical model that demonstrates how a change in slope affects the rate of burn. In the model, a square of graph paper is suspended using a mesh tray. The tray is positioned at different inclines and the paper is burned. Three time measurements are taken along the way: the time taken to burn up/down the square, the time taken to burn across the square, and the total burn time. Plotting the data (the first time measurement in particular) and fitting an arctangent function to the graph provides us with a powerful equation that we can implement in our code in order to account for elevation. So far, we have altered the base fire code so that the fire begins from one corner as it does in the physical model, however we have yet to implement the equation derived from the experiment.
We are using Netlogo to create this model. Using the equation derived from our physical experiment, and GIS data based on real-life terrain, we will input the data into an equation which will allow the model to show the burn rate based on incline.
We expected that when paper has a positive incline, the burn rate will increase, and when the paper has a negative incline, the burn rate will decrease. This prediction is based on the observation that when a fire burns, the flames and embers go up, not down. This allows us to get a faster burn going up a positive incline rather than a negative incline.
Sponsoring Teacher: Mohit Dubey
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