Physics and Ecology of Fire

Leader : François Pimont

Fire plays an important role in the dynamics and functioning of Mediterranean forests, representing a major disturbance for these forests and a risk for property and people located at habitat-forest interfaces. As a result of global warming, Europe, like other regions of the world, is likely to experience an increasing risk of fire in the decades to come. In France, areas susceptible to forest fires, which are currently concentrated in the south-west and south-east, are likely to extend to the west and centre of the country, as well as to the mid-mountains on the Mediterranean fringe.

In this context, our research aims to understand and model forest fires and their determinants in order to better assess and manage fire risk. Our work focuses on

  •     the propagation and impact of fires on a local scale (< 1 km2) to study how the atmosphere, vegetation, relief and fire interact (FIRETEC physical fire behaviour model).
  •     fire regimes (FIRELIHOOD probabilistic fire activity model), their physical, biological and anthropogenic determinants, and their contemporary evolution, on regional to European scales
  •     the dynamics of water content in plant fuel under drought conditions (SUREAU-ECOS ecophysiological model, remote sensing)
  •     innovative methods for assessing the structure of plant fuel (LiDARs).

We collaborate with the EFDC team at the URFM (SUREAU-ECOS), with the BIOSP unit (FIRELIHOOD), and with the RECOVER unit, which is also developing research on forest fires at INRAE, as well as with numerous French, European and North American research teams.

The knowledge and tools produced have operational applications for forest fire risk management: forecasting fire danger, projecting fire regimes into the future, risk assessment and mapping, public policy assessment, prevention and adaptation measures.

Modification date : 08 November 2023 | Publication date : 29 July 2010 | Redactor : François Pimont