Fire in paradise: mesoscale simulation of wildfires

Torsten Hadrich, Daniel T. Banuti, Wojtek Pałubicki, Sören Pirk, Dominik L. Michels

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Resulting from changing climatic conditions, wildfires have become an existential threat across various countries around the world. The complex dynamics paired with their often rapid progression renders wildfires an often disastrous natural phenomenon that is difficult to predict and to counteract. In this paper we present a novel method for simulating wildfires with the goal to realistically capture the combustion process of individual trees and the resulting propagation of fires at the scale of forests. We rely on a state-of-the-art modeling approach for large-scale ecosystems that enables us to represent each plant as a detailed 3D geometric model. We introduce a novel mathematical formulation for the combustion process of plants - also considering effects such as heat transfer, char insulation, and mass loss - as well as for the propagation of fire through the entire ecosystem. Compared to other wildfire simulations which employ geometric representations of plants such as cones or cylinders, our detailed 3D tree models enable us to simulate the interplay of geometric variations of branching structures and the dynamics of fire and wood combustion. Our simulation runs at interactive rates and thereby provides a convenient way to explore different conditions that affect wildfires, ranging from terrain elevation profiles and ecosystem compositions to various measures against wildfires, such as cutting down trees as firebreaks, the application of fire retardant, or the simulation of rain.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
JournalACM Transactions on Graphics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 19 2021

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2021-07-29
Acknowledgements: This work was supported and funded by KAUST through the base-line funding of the Computational Sciences Group within the Visual Computing Center. The authors are thankful to Miłosz Makowski and Weronika Skowrońska who generated the initial ecosystems. The insightful discussions with Jorge Alejandro Amador Herrera and Franziska Lissel as well as the reviewers’ valuable comments that improved the manuscript are gratefully acknowledged.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Graphics and Computer-Aided Design


Dive into the research topics of 'Fire in paradise: mesoscale simulation of wildfires'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this