Encyclopedia of Wildfires and Wildland-Urban Interface (WUI) Fires

Living Edition
| Editors: Samuel L. Manzello

Crown Scorch Height

  • Martin E. AlexanderEmail author
  • Miguel G. Cruz
  • Stephen W. Taylor
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-51727-8_72-1



Crown scorch height represents the vertical distance above the ground that lethal scorching of the needles or leaves in the canopy of a forest or shrubland ecosystem has occurred as a result of the heat generated from a surface fire.


The hot, rising convective gases and radiant heat from the combustion zone of a surface fire can possibly kill the overstory foliage in a forest or brushfield without consuming the needles or leaves. This vertical dimension of lethal scorching, as typically reflected in a distinct color change, is referred to as the crown scorch height (Fig. 1). Related metrics include crown scorch volume and length expressed as a percentage of the pre-fire values (Peterson and Ryan 1986; Hood 2007b). Note that crown scorch height as used here focuses solely on...
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Alexander ME (1982) Calculating and interpreting forest fire intensities. Can J Bot 60:349–357CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Alexander ME (1985) Book reviews: fire and forestry. For Chron 56:119–200Google Scholar
  3. Alexander ME (1998) Crown fire thresholds in exotic pine plantations of Australasia. Australian National University, PhD Thesis, CanberraGoogle Scholar
  4. Alexander ME, Cruz MG (2012a) Interdependencies between flame length and fireline intensity in predicting crown fire initiation and crown scorch height. Int J Wildland Fire 21:95–113. (Corrigendum: 26:245, 2017)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Alexander ME, Cruz MG (2012b) Graphical aids for visualizing Byram’s fireline intensity in relation to flame length and crown scorch height. For Chron 88:185–190CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Alexander ME, Cruz MG (2012c) Modelling the impacts of surface and crown fire behaviour on serotinous cone opening in jack pine and lodgepole pine forests. Int J Wildland Fire 21:709–721CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Andrews PL, Bevins CD, Seli RC (2008) BehavePlus fire modeling system, version 4.0: user’s guide. USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, General Technical Report, RMRS-GTR-106WWW Revised, OgdenGoogle Scholar
  8. Burrows ND (1997) Predicting canopy scorch height in jarrah forests. CALMSci 2:267–274Google Scholar
  9. Byram GM (1958) Some basic thermal processes controlling the effects of fire on living vegetation. USDA Forest Service, Southeastern Forest Experiment Station, Research Notes Number 114, AshevilleGoogle Scholar
  10. Byram GM (1959) Combustion of forest fuels. In: Davis KP (ed) Forest fire: control and use. McGraw-Hill, New York, pp 61–89Google Scholar
  11. Catchpole EA, Alexander ME, Gill AM (1992) Elliptical-fire perimeter-and area-intensity distributions. Can J For Res 22:968–972. (Errata: 23:1244, 1993; 29:788, 1999)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Cram DS, Baker TT, Boren JC (2006) Wildland fire effects in silviculturally treated vs. untreated stands of New Mexico and Arizona. USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Research Paper RMRS-RP-55, Fort CollinsGoogle Scholar
  13. de Ronde C, Goldammer JG, Wade DD, Soares RV (1990) Prescribed fire in industrial pine plantations. In: Goldammer JG (ed) Fire in the tropical biota: ecosystem processes and global challenges. Ecol Stud, vol 84. Springer, Berlin, pp 216–272Google Scholar
  14. Dieterich JH (1979) Recovery potential of fire-damaged Southwestern ponderosa pine. USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station, Research Note RM-379, Fort CollinsGoogle Scholar
  15. Fernandes PM, Vega JA, Jiménez E, Rigolot E (2008) Fire resistance in European pines. For Ecol Manag 256:246–255CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Fernandes PM, Loureiro C, Botelho H (2012) PiroPinus: a spreadsheet application to guide prescribed burning operations in a maritime pine forest. Compu Electron Agric 81:58–61CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Hood S (2007a) Crown kill. http://www.firewords.net/definitions/crown_kill.htm. Verified 21 July 2018
  18. Hood S (2007b) Crown scorch. http://firewords.net/definitions/crown_scorch.htm. Verified 21 July 2018
  19. Hood S (2007c) Scorch height. http://www.firewords.net/definitions/scorch_height.htm. Verified 21 July 2018
  20. Hood S, Bentz B, Gibson K, Ryan K, DeNitto G (2007) Assessing post-fire Douglas-fir mortality and Douglas-fir beetle attacks in the northern Rocky Mountains. USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, General Technical Report RMRS-GTR-199, Fort CollinsGoogle Scholar
  21. Lawson BD (1972) Fire spread in lodgepole pine stands. Canadian Forestry Service, Pacific Forest Research Centre, Internal Report BC-36, VictoriaGoogle Scholar
  22. Martinson EJ, Omi PN (2008) Assessing mitigation of wildfire severity by fuel treatments – an example from the coastal plain of Mississippi. Int J Wildland Fire 17:415–420CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Michaletz ST, Johnson EA (2006a) A heat transfer model of crown scorch in forest fires. Can J For Res 36:2839–2851CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Michaletz ST, Johnson EA (2006b) Crown scorch version 1.0 user’s guide. http://www.seanmichaletz.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/crown-scorch-users-guide.pdf. Verified 6 Feb 2018
  25. Michaletz ST, Johnson EA (2007) How forest fires kill trees: a review of the fundamental biophysical processes. Scand J For Res 22:500–515CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Nelson RM (1952) Observation of heat tolerance of Southern pine needles. USDA Forest Service, Southeastern Forest Experiment Station, Station Paper 14, AshevilleGoogle Scholar
  27. Peterson DL, Ryan KC (1986) Modeling postfire conifer mortality for long-range planning. Environ Model 10:797–808Google Scholar
  28. Rebain SA (comp) (2015) The fire and fuels extension to the forest vegetation simulator: updated model documentation. USDA Forest Service, Forest Management Service Center, Internal Report, Fort CollinsGoogle Scholar
  29. Reinhardt ED, Ryan KC (1988) How to estimate tree mortality resulting from underburning. Fire Manage Notes 49(4):30–36Google Scholar
  30. Reinhardt ED, Keane RE, Brown JK (1997) First Order Fire Effects Model: FOFEM 4.0, user’s guide. USDA Forest Service, Intermountain Research Station, General Technical Report INT-GTR-344, OgdenGoogle Scholar
  31. Rothermel RC (1985) Fire behavior considerations of aerial ignition. In: Mutch RW (tech coord) Prescribed fire by aerial ignition, proceedings of a workshop, 30 Oct–1 Nov 1984, Missoula. Intermountain Fire Council, Missoula, pp 143–158Google Scholar
  32. Safford HD, Stevens JT, Merriam K, Meyer MD, Latimer AM (2012) Fuel treatment effectiveness in California yellow pine and mixed conifer forests. For Ecol Manag 274:17–28CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Salazar LA, Bradshaw LS (1986) Display and interpretation of fire behavior probabilities for long-term planning. Environ Manag 10:393–402CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Scott AC, Bowman DMJS, Bond WJ, Pyne SJ, Alexander ME (2014) Fire on Earth: an introduction. Wiley-Blackwell, ChichesterGoogle Scholar
  35. Stephens SL (1998) Evaluation of the effects of silvicultural and fuels treatments on potential fire behavior in Sierra Nevada mixed-conifer forests. For Ecol Manag 105:21–35CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Storey TG, Merkel EP (1960) Mortality in a longleaf-slash pine stand following a winter wildfire. J For 58:206–210Google Scholar
  37. Taylor SW, Armitage OB (1996) SCORCH: a fire-induced tree-mortality prediction model for Canadian forests. In: Comeau PG, Harper GJ, Blache ME, Boateng J, Gileson LA (eds) Integrated forest vegetation management: options and applications. Canadian Forest Service, Pacific Forestry Centre and British Columbia Ministry of Forests, Research Branch, FRDA Report 251, Victoria, pp 137–138Google Scholar
  38. Thomas PH (1963) The size of flames from natural fires. Symp (Int) Combust 9:844–859CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Van Wagner CE (1973) Height of crown scorch in forest fires. Can J For Res 3:373–378CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Van Wagner CE (1977) Conditions for the start and spread of crown fire. Can J For Res 7:23–34CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Van Wagner CE (1978) Metric units and conversion factors for forest fire quantities. Canadian Forestry Service, Petawawa Forest Experiment Station, Information Report PS-X-71, Chalk RiverGoogle Scholar
  42. Wade DD, Johansen RW (1986) Effects of fire on Southern pine: observations and recommendations. USDA Forest Service, Southeastern Forest Experiment Station, General Technical Report SE-41, AshevilleGoogle Scholar
  43. Wade DD, Lunsford JD (1988) A guide for prescribed fire in Southern forests. USDA Forest Service, Southern Region, Technical Publication R8-TP 11, AtlantaGoogle Scholar
  44. Woolley T, Shaw DC, Ganio LM, Fitzgerald S (2012) A review of logistic regression models used to predict post-fire tree mortality of western north American conifers. Int J Wildland Fire 21:1–35CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Wotton BM, Gould JS, McCaw WL, Cheney NP, Taylor SW (2012) Flame temperature and residence time of fires in dry eucalypt forest. Int J Wildland Fire 21:270–281CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Martin E. Alexander
    • 1
    Email author
  • Miguel G. Cruz
    • 2
  • Stephen W. Taylor
    • 3
  1. 1.Wild Rose Fire BehaviourLeduc CountyCanada
  2. 2.CSIROCanberraAustralia
  3. 3.Canadian Forest Service, Pacific Forestry CentreVictoriaCanada

Section editors and affiliations

  • Kuibin Zhou
    • 1
  1. 1.Nanjing Tech UniversityNanjingChina