Modeling carbon emissions from the 2002 Biscuit Fire using FARSITE for applications for future fire emissions

Document Type

Conference Paper/Presentation

Publication Date



In July 2002, lighting strikes ignited five separate fires within the Siskiyou National Forest in southern Oregon. These fires merged in early August to form the Biscuit Fire Complex, one of the largest (approximately 499,000 acres or 200,000 hectares) and costliest wildfires in Oregon's recorded history. FARSITE, a fire area simulator used by the US Forest Service and National Parks Service, spatially and temporally simulates fire behavior based on terrain, fuel, and weather inputs. The Biscuit Fire was modeled within FARSITE to verify that the program could replicate the growth, behavior, and emissions of this well known, quantified, and studied fire. Using a GIS developed model of the Siskiyou National Forest region, the simulation successfully modeled the growth of the Biscuit fire between 13 July and 31 August, corresponding to the dates when the wildfires started to just days before it was declared contained. The carbon emissions of the modeled fire were then calculated by processing the results through ArcWFEIS (an ArcGIS version of the Wildland Fire Emissions Information System: www.wfeis.mtri.org) and Python-CONSUME, two models developed by the Michigan Tech Research Institute. The total amount of FARSITE modeled carbon emission from the Biscuit Fire was compared to a previously published value from French et al. (2011): 11.74 Tg C versus 13.65 Tg C, respectively. With this successful validation of carbon emissions from a historic fire, FARSITE will be used to model the impacts of climate change on emissions from future lighting-ignited wildfires.

Publisher's Statement

© 2013 International Association of Wildland Fire

Publication Title

Proceedings of the International Smoke Symposium 2013