The objective of this Statement of Need was to improve understanding of ignition patterns, self-organization of convective structures, and near-fire smoke plume development for the purpose of improving management of fire for military land-use.
Specific research objectives included:
- Improve understanding of physical fire processes at spatial and temporal scales relevant to the processes being examined,
- Improve characterization of fuels as to composition, load, spatial scale, and distribution in three physical dimensions and over time scales relevant to the phenomena to be examined, and
- Improved characterization of fuel material consumption and other fire effects under diverse conditions.
Proposers were asked to specifically state the rationale for their research approach, describe their understating of current practice, and explain how their approach would result in new insight into fire phenomena. Expected research outcomes were required to be discussed in the context of current fire science and management strategy including potential benefits with respect to Department of Defense management needs. Research efforts which integrated the three specific research objectives stated above were favored. Research efforts should have sought to leverage other concurrent national efforts such as the Fire and Smoke Model Evaluation Experiment, Fire Influence on Regional and Global Environments Experiment, and the NASA wildland fire tropospheric chemistry project research programs. Proposers should have also demonstrated a knowledge of the SERDP Fire Science Strategy: Resource Conservation and Climate Change (September 2014), relevant current and past SERDP research efforts, and place their proposed research within the context of the SERDP strategy and current national research efforts. To the extent that modeling was proposed, a model validation scheme and approach to the incorporation of the resultant model into current tools was required to be explicitly described.
Funded projects will appear below as project overviews are posted to the website.
Reductions in risk, improved control, and heightened confidence in models and methods used to manage and control fire inherent in military land-use is the explicit expected long-term benefit of this research; however, to realize the benefit, both fundamental and applied bodies of scientific knowledge related to fire phenomena must be matured. The immediate benefit of this proposed work is to develop and improve the understanding of ignition patterns, self-organization of convective structures, and near-fire smoke plume development in an effort to establish a physics-based understanding of these fire dynamics and the poorly understood plume “cores” and the critical fire-atmospheric feedback.
Fire is uniquely present on military training and testing lands as an element of military land-use since mission readiness requires the delivery of ordnance and pyrotechnics. As such, the management of fire to meet current and future military land-use, stewardship requirements, and future military capabilities is a critical research focus. Fire can be one of the most effective ecological processes for restoring historically degraded lands to functioning ecosystems, but the ecological processes are complex and not well understood. This complexity is exemplified in the manner in which the presence of insects, disease, and drought affect forest health and the degree to which fire can be applied as a management tool to improve forest health in the face of these and other challenges. The use of fire for management purposes (i.e., planned fires) is, however, often constrained by air quality and smoke safety (visibility) considerations.
Wildfires, which are unplanned fires, also present air quality issues. These fires tend to occur during the annual warm seasons, when human populations are often already subject to exposure to elevated ozone and particle concentrations. In addition, these fires tend to consume heavier fuels (i.e., woody fuels and not just fine fuels), organic soil horizons, and can smolder for extended periods. The incomplete combustion associated with smoldering may lead to much higher emissions of reduced compounds, including many air toxics. Wildfires also pose higher risks for human safety, infrastructure, fire response assets, and raise training and unplanned suppression costs. Prescribed burning, on the other hand, is commonly performed with the aid of fire weather forecasting systems that can help to minimize direct human exposure to smoke, minimize the impact to transportation activities, and limit fire severity and smoldering combustion by constraining the temperature, humidity, wind, and fuel conditions under which the prescribed burn occurs.
To support DoD’s continued use of fire as a management tool, SERDP has funded, and seeks to continue to fund, efforts to address how best to characterize emissions associated with fire and fire dispersion in the atmosphere.
In addition, fire is a key ecological process that needs to be considered both in the management of various ecosystem types and for mission support (i.e., maintaining safe and realistic training environments). The various competing constraints, benefits, adverse consequences, and costs associated with fire create a complex management challenge. The characteristics of DoD lands and land management objectives result in unique fire science knowledge gaps and a focus on prescribed fire versus suppression, sustaining the military mission through fire management, indirect suppression tactics, and sustaining particular ecosystems in regions where DoD is a significant land manager.
Complementary SERDP-Funded Projects: In an effort to mature the science of fire management for DoD unique military land use, SERDP developed the Fire Science Strategy: Resource Conservation and Climate Change (September 2014) and supported projects relating to the science of fire management. The strategy and a brief description of completed and ongoing projects can be found at the SERDP website.
The cost and time to meet the requirements of this SON are at the discretion of the proposer. Two options are available:
Standard Proposals: These proposals describe a complete research effort. It is anticipated that the scope of this statement of need is such that a multi-disciplinary team will be required to execute a successful effort. While proposals for single investigator efforts are accepted, they are unlikely to be of sufficient scope to compete successfully. The proposer should incorporate the appropriate time, schedule, and cost requirements to accomplish the scope of work proposed. SERDP projects normally run from two to four years in length and vary considerably in cost consistent with the scope of the effort. It is expected that most proposals will fall into this category.
Limited Scope Proposals: Proposers with innovative approaches to the SON that entail high technical risk or have minimal supporting data may submit a Limited Scope Proposal for funding up to $200,000 and approximately one year in duration. Such proposals may be eligible for follow-on funding if they result in a successful initial project. The objective of these proposals should be to acquire the data necessary to demonstrate proof-of-concept or reduction of risk that will lead to development of a future Standard Proposal. Proposers should submit Limited Scope Proposals in accordance with the SERDP Core Solicitation instructions and deadlines.