The Mediterranean Agronomic Institute of Chania (MAICH) has established a modern Wildland Fire Science Laboratory as a part of major research facilities in 1993. The establishment was partly supported by EEC funds. The complexity of the wildland fire problem requires basic and applied research combined with education and training in modern methods and technologies from various scientific disciplines. The objectives of the Wildland Fire Science Laboratory at MAICH therefore are twofold:
Promote basic and applied research on the principles, management and ecology of wildland fires.
Provide post-graduate education and training with updated methods and modern technologies in wildland fire prevention, suppression and management in combination with ecological considerations.
The instrumentation of the laboratory provides the most modern technological means in the field of fire and pyrolysis analysis:
Automatic data loggers equipped with thermocouples for high temperature measurements
A thermal analysis system for determining pyric properties and combustion processes of wildland fuels, consisting of (a) differential scanning calorimetry, and (b) thermogravimetric analyser
Adiabatic bomb calorimeter for measuring the calorific value of different substances
Friction chamber for silica-ash determination
Field instrumentation for fuel measurements and fire weather monitoring
Instrumentation for prescribed burning documentation
Complete collection of software packages on fire behaviour simulation, fire danger rating, fuel modelling and wildland fire management decision making
The complete and updated instrumentation of the laboratory enables basic and applied research in various aspects of fire science:
Fire behaviour principles
Pyrolysis and thermochemical reactions
Analysis of physical and chemical properties of fuels
Inflammability and combustibility
Fire management systems
Fire suppression organisation operations research.
The Fire Science Laboratory of MAICH is engaged in the following research programs:
Programme ENVIRONMENT: “Modelling of forest fires”. The project aims at developing a wildland fire behaviour prediction model with managerial implications.
Programme STRIDE: ” Rehabilitation of burned areas and wildland fire prevention”. The project seeks to create a system for forest fire risk assessment based on meteorological data and to provide training in fire prevention and control methods.
Programme AIR: “Conservation and protection of low-elevation Mediterranean coniferous forests threatened by wildfires”. The role of fires as an ecosystem process and evolutionary force in Mediterranean-type ecosystems is investigated.
MAICH is one of the four agronomic institutes of the international Centre for Advanced Mediterranean Agronomic Studies (ICAMAS). It is an educational organisation which offers graduate study programs leading to the M.Sc. degree. The Department of Environmental and Renewable Resources offers in its curriculum courses on Wildland Fire Ecology and Management. Among them, an intensive course on “Ecology and Management of Wildland Fires in the Mediterranean Region” is attended by many international students who are exposed to modern laboratory technologies as part of their education. Visiting faculty members and researchers participate in the educational and research procedures at MAICH.
A number of competent graduate students is conducting research for their M.Sc. degrees in the discipline of Wildland Fire Science using the laboratory facilities.
From: Alexander P.Dimitrakopoulos Scientific Responsible, Wildland Fire Laboratory Address: Mediterranean Agronomic Institute of Chania Department of Environmental and Renewable Resources P.O. Box 85 Alsyllio Agrokipiou GR – 73100 Chania (Crete)