A new article by Alexandra Witze entitled “Firenadoes and drifting embers: The secrets of extreme wildfires” was recently published in Knowable Magazine.
We’re really excited about this article as it does a great job of describing the type of research we do in the lab, how it impacts modeling fire behavior, and future directions in fire research. Come take a look. Here is an excerpt below:
Flames begin to rise. Mike Heck jumps back. The tendrils lick upward, wavering in the wind, then coalesce into a vortex of flame, an incandescent tornado writhing in orange and red. “There it goes!” says one onlooker. Another whistles in astonishment.
But nobody is concerned. Heck set the fire deliberately, igniting a pan of liquid on the floor of a room lined with concrete blocks to contain the flames. A suction hood overhead prevents smoke from billowing into nearby classrooms.
Heck’s supervisor, fire scientist Michael Gollner of the University of Maryland in College Park, regularly conjures up such blazing pillars, known as fire whirls, in his lab. (Gollner and colleagues explore the science of these phenomena in the 2018 Annual Review of Fluid Mechanics.) From them, and from other fiery experiments, he aims to learn how flames intensify and spread as cities and landscapes burn. Gollner’s goal is to better understand what drives fire to leap its way from house to house and from tree to tree.https://www.knowablemagazine.org/article/physical-world/2019/firenadoes-and-drifting-embers-secrets-extreme-wildfires
University of Maryland fire scientist Michael Gollner demonstrates a device that tests how fire spreads at different angles. When he raises the ignition surface from horizontal to tilted, the flames react differently — information that firefighters can use when battling growing fires.