Radiative Transfer in Propagating Fire Front


Project Kick-off

October 2020: Setting up at CERTEC on the UPC campus of Barcelona for the next two years thanks to the support of an MSCA fellwoship.


3DFireLab is funded by a fellowship of the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA) from the H2020 Research program developed by the European Union.

Ronan Paugam was awarded this fellowship at the 2019 MSCA call to set up the project at CERTEC, an institution of the University Politecnia de Calatunia (UPC) led by Dr Elsa Pastor and Prof Eulalia Planas. French institution from Toulouse in France are also involved, namely, CERFACS and two labs (CESBIO and LA) from the university Paul Sabatier (UPS). (see partners list below)

3DfireLab aims to develop a simulation strategy to create a 3D virtual fire lab that can model radiative transfer in open landscape scale vegetation fire. The end objective is to help improving fire monitoring Earth Observation (EO) products.

botswana-1 botswana-2 Example of a fire observed by MODIS Terra over Botswana on the 8th of Oct 2003. Images show the true color composite image derived form MODIS RGB bands and the Middle Infra Red (MIR) band (3.9 mu). The green crosses on the later image show the fire hot spot detected by MODIS fire product. Also reported on the image are fire activity information estimated from EO products: plume height derived from PRM (Plume Rise Model), Fire Radiative Power (FRP), and Active Fire Aera (AFarea). See Paugam et al. 2015 for more info on these products.

3DfireLab builds on an initial system designed by Ronan Paugam during a previous European Space Agency project (run at Kings College London with Prof Martin Wooster), and the coupling of models of fire spread, atmospherics dynamics and radiative transfer developed by partners.

It takes opportunity of (a) the wide experience of CERTEC in fire monitoring and modeling, (b) recent efforts to improve atmospheric representation in radiative transfer model (CESBIO), fire effects in atmospheric model (LA), Machine Learning application in fire observation (CERFACS) and (c) Ronan’s experience in the fire remote sensing community.

Fire disturbance is parameterized in large scale atmospheric modeling (e.g. forecast model) via emission inventory based on EO products. A well-established approach is to use the Fire Radiative Power product (FRP) to estimate total fire energy emission and infer the associated fuel mass consumption and trace gas emission. So far, the conversion from emissive radiative energy to mass consumption is based on a linear relationship that has only been demonstrated for small scale fire and little evidence are currently present to validate it in the context of large-scale fire scenario.

The simulation strategy proposed in 3DFireLab aims to setup a tool able to study energy transfer in large-scale fires that will help us understand the roles of the flames and the plume to eventually evaluate their sensitivity in the fire emission FRP retrievals.

While project results have potential high application in the atmospheric community, the training organized with the host and the two partners will provide a wide range of expertise in atmospheric dynamics, radiative transfer, image processing, fire modeling, data science that will enrich partners activities in fire science.


  • Paugam, R., Wooster, M., Atherton, J., Freitas, S. R., Schultz, M. G., and Kaiser, J. W.: Development and optimization of a wildfire plume rise model based on remote sensing data inputs -Part 2, Atmos. Chem. Phys. Discuss., 15, 9815-9895, doi:10.5194/acpd-15-9815-2015, 2015.


3DFireLab involes 4 partners located in Barcelona and Toulouse:


UPC CERTEC (Centre d’Estudis del Risc Tecnològic) hosted is hosted at the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC). It was created in 1992 and is located at the new Diagonal Besòs Campus in Barcelona. CERTEC has a Wildfire Research Programme whose aim is to provide technological and scientific solutions for a sustainable cost-effective wildfire management. One specific objective of this Programme is to improve current wildfire airborne monitoring systems by optimizing infrared technology outcomes. CERTEC is the host of 3DFireLab. Ronan Paugam will work here with the help of Prof Elsa Pastor who has a strong experience in fire monitoriting and modelling and Prof Eulalia Planas, head of CERTEC, who is providing expertise in fire physical and chemical processes.


CESBIO CESBIO (Centre d’Etudes Spatiales de la Biosphère ) is a french joint research unit attached to the Université Paul Sabatier (UPS) in Toulouse. Its research is axed on the functioning of continental surfaces and their interactions with climate and humans, relying heavily on satellite data. The group of Prof Jean Philippe Gastellu-Etchegorry which develops the radiative transfer model DART, is involved in 3DFireLab to provide experience in radiative transfer and support for the integration of fire scene in the DART model.

LA The Laboratoire d’Aérologie (LA) is joint research unit hosted at Université Paul Sabatier (UPS) in Toulouse. Its scientific activity aims to observe, model and understand the dynamic and physico-chemical processes that govern the evolution of the atmosphere and the coastal ocean. Prof Céline Mari is involved in 3DFireLab to support the atmospheric modelling development of the project, in particular through the MesoNH model.


CERFACS Centre Européen de Recherche et de Formation Avancée en Calcul Scientifique (CERFACS) is a research institut specialized in modelling and numerical simulation, through its facilities and expertise in high-performance computing, deals with major scientific and technical research problems of public and industrial interest. CERFACS is based in Toulouse in the campus of Meteo France. CERFACS provides to 3DFireLab its expertise in fire spread modelling and in machine learning thanks to the support of the two groups of Dr Melanie Rochoux (FIREFLY) and Dr Corentin Lapeyre (HELIOS).



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Referenced conference:

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