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  1. Abstract

    Past studies reported a drastic growth in the wildland–urban interface (WUI), the location where man‐made structures meet or overlap wildland vegetation. Fighting fire is difficult in the WUI due to the combination of wildland and structural fuels, and therefore, WUI areas are characterized by frequent damage and loss of structures from wildfires. Recent wildland fire policy has targeted fire prevention, evacuation planning, fuel treatment, and home hardening in WUI areas. Therefore, it is important to understand the occurrence of wildfire events relative to the location of the WUI. In this work, we have reported the occurrences of wildfires with respect to the WUI and quantified how much of the WUI is on complex topography in California, which intensifies fire behavior and complicates fire suppression. We have additionally analyzed the relative importance of WUI‐related parameters, such as housing density, vegetation density, and distance to wildfires, as well as topographic factors, such as slope, elevation, aspect, and surface roughness, on the occurrence of large and small wildfires and the burned area of large wildfires near the WUI. We found that a very small percentage of wildfire ignition points and large wildfire‐burned areas (>400 ha or 1000 acres) were located in the WUI areas. A small percentage of large wildfires were encountered in WUI (3%), and the WUI area accounted for only 4% of the area burned, which increased to 5% and 56%, respectively, outside WUI (5‐km buffer from WUI). Similarly, 66% of fires ignited outside WUI, whereas only 3.6% ignited within WUI. Results from this study have implications for fuel management and infrastructure hardening, as well as for fire suppression and community response.

     
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  6. Abstract High frequency (30 Hz) two-dimensional particle image velocimetry data recorded during a field experiment exploring fire spread from point ignition in hand-spread pine needles under calm ambient wind conditions are analysed in this study. In the initial stages, as the flame spreads approximately radially away from the ignition point in the absence of a preferred wind-forcing direction, it entrains cooler ambient air into the warmer fire core, thereby experiencing a dynamic pressure resistance. The fire-front, comprising a flame that is tilted inward, is surrounded by a region of downdraft. Coherent structures describe the initial shape of the fire-front and its response to local wind shifts while also revealing possible fire-spread mechanisms. Vortex tubes originating outside the fire spiral inward and get stretched thinner at the fire-front leading to higher vorticity there. These tubes comprise circulation structures that induce a radially outward velocity close to the fuel bed, which pushes hot gases outward, thereby causing the fire to spread. Moreover, these circulation structures confirm the presence of counter-rotating vortex pairs that are known to be a key mechanism for fire spread. The axis of the vortex tubes changes its orientation alternately towards and away from the surface of the fuel bed, causing the vortex tubes to be kinked. The strong updraft observed at the location of the fire-front could potentially advect and tilt the kinked vortex tube vertically upward leading to fire-whirl formation. As the fire evolves, its perimeter disintegrates in response to flow instabilities to form smaller fire “pockets”. These pockets are confined to certain points in the flow field that remain relatively fixed for a while and resemble the behavior of a chaotic system in the vicinity of an attractor. Increased magnitudes of the turbulent fluxes of horizontal momentum, computed at certain such fixed points along the fire-front, are symptomatic of irregular fire bursts and help contextualize the fire spread. Most importantly, the time-varying transport terms of the turbulent kinetic energy budget equation computed at adjacent fixed points indicate that local fires along the fire-front primarily interact via the horizontal turbulent transport term. 
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  7. Abstract Due to the mixed distribution of buildings and vegetation, wildland-urban interface (WUI) areas are characterized by complex fuel distributions and geographical environments. The behavior of wildfires occurring in the WUI often leads to severe hazards and significant damage to man-made structures. Therefore, WUI areas warrant more attention during the wildfire season. Due to the ever-changing dynamic nature of California’s population and housing, the update frequency and resolution of WUI maps that are currently used can no longer meet the needs and challenges of wildfire management and resource allocation for suppression and mitigation efforts. Recent developments in remote sensing technology and data analysis algorithms pose new opportunities for improving WUI mapping methods. WUI areas in California were directly mapped using building footprints extracted from remote sensing data by Microsoft along with the fuel vegetation cover from the LANDFIRE dataset in this study. To accommodate the new type of datasets, we developed a threshold criteria for mapping WUI based on statistical analysis, as opposed to using more ad-hoc criteria as used in previous mapping approaches. This method removes the reliance on census data in WUI mapping, and does not require the calculation of housing density. Moreover, this approach designates the adjacent areas of each building with large and dense parcels of vegetation as WUI, which can not only refine the scope and resolution of the WUI areas to individual buildings, but also avoids zoning issues and uncertainties in housing density calculation. Besides, the new method has the capability of updating the WUI map in real-time according to the operational needs. Therefore, this method is suitable for local governments to map local WUI areas, as well as formulating detailed wildfire emergency plans, evacuation routes, and management measures. 
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  8. We investigate the intermittent dynamics of momentum transport and its underlying time scales in the near-wall region of the neutrally stratified atmospheric boundary layer in the presence of a vegetation canopy. This is achieved through an empirical analysis of the persistence time scales (periods between successive zero-crossings) of momentum flux events, and their connection to the ejection–sweep cycle. Using high-frequency measurements from the GoAmazon campaign, spanning multiple heights within and above a dense canopy, the analysis suggests that, when the persistence time scales ( $t_p$ ) of momentum flux events from four different quadrants are separately normalized by $\varGamma _{w}$ (integral time scale of the vertical velocity), their distributions $P(t_p/\varGamma _{w})$ remain height-invariant. This result points to a persistent memory imposed by canopy-induced coherent structures, and to their role as an efficient momentum-transporting mechanism between the canopy airspace and the region immediately above. Moreover, $P(t_p/\varGamma _{w})$ exhibits a power-law scaling at times $t_{p}<\varGamma _{w}$ , with an exponential tail appearing for $t_{p} \geq \varGamma _{w}$ . By separating the flux events based on $t_p$ , we discover that around 80 % of the momentum is transported through the long-lived events ( $t_{p} \geq \varGamma _{w}$ ) at heights immediately above the canopy, while the short-lived ones ( $t_{p} < \varGamma _{w}$ ) only contribute marginally ( $\approx 20\,\%$ ). To explain the role of instantaneous flux amplitudes in momentum transport, we compare the measurements with newly developed surrogate data and establish that the range of time scales involved with amplitude variations in the fluxes tends to increase as one transitions from within to above the canopy. 
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