Huygen's principle

n. The principle that each point of an advancing wave front is, in fact, the center of a new independent disturbance and thus the source of a new train of waves.


  • Discussion


Huygen’s principle recognizes that the advancing wave, as a whole, may be regarded as the sum of all the secondary waves arising from points in the medium already traversed. Huygen’s principle is applied in spatial fire modeling  by treating each point on a fire’s perimeter  as the source of an independent elliptical fire. Information required at each point includes 1) orientation of the point at the fire front, 2) rate of spread and direction of maximum spread, and 3) elliptical dimensions of an elliptical fire determined from local fire environment conditions at that point. Within the fire behavior model  FARSITE, Richard’s (1990, 1995) method is used to implement Huygen’s principle (Finney 2004).  


  • See Also

  • References

    • Anderson, D.H.; Catchpole, E.A.; DeMestre, N.J.; Parkes, T. 1982. Modeling the spread of grass fires. Journal of the Australian Mathematical Society (Series B). 23: 451-466.

    • Finney, M.A. 2004. FARSITE: Fire Area Simulator – Model Development and Evaluation. Res. Pap. RMRS-RP-4. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station. 47 p.

    • Richards, G.D. 1990. An elliptical growth model of forest fire fronts and its numerical solution. International Journal of Numerical Methods Engineering. 30: 1163-1179.

    • Richards, G.D. 1995. A general mathematical framework for modeling two-dimensional wildland fire spread. International Journal of Wildland Fire. 5: 63-72.  


  • Notes

    • Author 

      Charles W. McHugh, Fire Spatial Analyst

      Rocky Mountain Research Station