Application of LiDAR Derived Fuel Cells to Wildfire Modeling at Laboratory Scale

Anthony A. Marcozzi, Jesse V. Johnson, Russell A. Parsons, Sarah J. Flanary, Carl A. Seielstad, Jacob Z. Downs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Terrestrial LiDAR scans (TLS) offer a rich data source for high-fidelity vegetation characterization, addressing the limitations of traditional fuel sampling methods by capturing spatially explicit distributions that have a significant impact on fire behavior. However, large volumes of complex, high resolution data are difficult to use directly in wildland fire models. In this study, we introduce a novel method that employs a voxelization technique to convert high-resolution TLS data into fine-grained reference voxels, which are subsequently aggregated into lower-fidelity fuel cells for integration into physics-based fire models. This methodology aims to transform the complexity of TLS data into a format amenable for integration into wildland fire models, while retaining essential information about the spatial distribution of vegetation. We evaluate our approach by comparing a range of aggregate geometries in simulated burns to laboratory measurements. The results show insensitivity to fuel cell geometry at fine resolutions (2–8 cm), but we observe deviations in model behavior at the coarsest resolutions considered (16 cm). Our findings highlight the importance of capturing the fine scale spatial continuity present in heterogeneous tree canopies in order to accurately simulate fire behavior in coupled fire-atmosphere models. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study to examine the use of TLS data to inform fuel inputs to a physics based model at a laboratory scale.

Original languageEnglish
Article number394
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2023


  • TLS
  • coupled fire-atmosphere models
  • fuel modeling
  • wildland fire modeling


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